I think most people want to believe that we’re not alone in the universe.
Sure, aliens could be the scary, smart kind who come down to Earth ready to kill us all and inhabit our planet, but it would still be pretty cool to see them, right?
So far, there have been no solid signs of intelligent life in the universe, though most scientists would tell you that – statistically speaking – there most likely is.
Our inclination toward wanting that contact with other beings is what makes stories like this one, about a “mysterious signal” bouncing back to Earth, so fascinating.
Astronomers with powerful telescopes have been detecting what they’ve termed fast radio bursts, or FRBs – bursts of cosmic radio waves, translated as ultra-bright flashes of energy – since 2007. More than 100 have been discovered since then, but almost all of them are from too fast, and from far away to discover where exactly they’re coming from.
This means that, historically, the bursts are difficult to study, leaving scientists unsure about their origins for over a decade.
There is one, though, coming from a young star about 30,000 light years away. The cosmic signal was detected in April of 2020, and in a new paper, scientists say it has been repeated twice since then.
They think that the most recent – and nearest – radio flares are believed to be from an object known as a magnetar. A study published in the Nature Astronomy confirms this signal came from magneton star SGR 1935+2154.
A magnetar is a type of neutron star with a powerful magnetic field, and only a handful of them are known to exist in the Milky Way. Telescopes in Europe caught the blast in April, and then the two additional blasts, which came in quick succession.
That means (sadly?) that the signals aren’t coming from intelligent aliens looking to communicate. That doesn’t mean the mystery is totally solved, though, according to Dr. Kiyoshi Masui, a physicist from MIT.
“We’re trying to piece together what it all means.
We’ve got our eyes open for other magnetars, but the big thing now is to study this one source and really drill down to see what it tells us about how FRBs are made.”
So, basically… stay tuned! But don’t expect an alien invasion.
At least, not any time soon.
What do you think about this news? Let us know in the comments!