Astronomers detected a mysterious, brief radio signal in New South Wales using the Parkes Radio Telescope.
Known as Fast Radio Bursts, short signals like this one are comparatively new phenomenon. Scientists are yet to determine their origin.
It was in 2007 that Fast Radio Burst first occurred when astronomers discovered it after looking through related data from the Parkes Radio Telescope. Then six more bursts have been reportedly found in archival data of the Parkes Radio Telescope, and another similar burst discovered from Arecibo telescope data in Puerto Rico. However, one of these brief signals had not been detected in real time until recently.
A team of Australian astronomers lead by Emily Petroff developed a method to search for Fast Radio Bursts. The effort paid off on May 14, 2014 when a Fast Radio Burst was detected for the first time in real time. Researchers then alerted other telescopes from different parts of the world. Scientists successfully scanned multiple wavelengths with twelve telescopes investigating the signal. But ScienceDaily explains researchers found nothing even though they successfully detected the radio wave burst while it happened and could quickly make follow-up observations at other wavelengths such as x-ray waves, ultraviolet light, infrared light, and visible light.
Astrophysicist Daniele Malesani explains that the efforts were not wasted because they did not see light at other wavelengths, which eliminated variety of astronomical phenomena related to violent events, such as gamma-ray bursts from exploding supernovae and stars, which otherwise prospects for the burst.
The team concludes that the radio burst came from 5.5 billion light years away. However, the mystery remains despite the fact that astronomers learned more about this mysterious Fast Radio Burst phenomenon through eliminating some possible sources.
So, what are these radio signals? Where do they originate? What may be causing the signal? Possibilities include evaporating black holes, alien communication, and merging neutron stars.