Astronomers have detected alien signals – that is, signals from a foreign galaxy – being emitted in an unusually regular 16-day cycle.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are not in and of themselves unusual – the first was detected in 2007 – but previous observations have shown them to be mostly emitted at random.
The findings are included in the pre-print of a paper on arXiv, meaning the paper has been moderated but not fully peer reviewed. The authors of the paper are part of the CHIME/FRB collaboration, which has published a multitude of fast radio burst studies in recent years.
While there have been some bursts which repeated, as astronomers discovered previously, they have never been seen repeating in such a steady cycle.
The origin of FRBs hasn’t been established yet, although the dominant theories regarding them suggest the signals are produced by rapidly rotating bodies such as neutron stars or black holes.
Researchers studying data from the radio telescope used by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) found the FRB signals arrived on Earth up to twice an hour for four days before suddenly stopping, only to start up again twelve days later.
Its origin was located within a medium-sized spiral galaxy about 500 million light-years away, making it the closest FRB discovered to date.