Connect with us

Space

Mysterious fast radio bursts from outer space: Astronomers baffled, admit they could be alien in origin

Since 2001, the Parkes radio telescope in Australia has been picking up mysterious, unidentified bursts of energy that astronomers have since dubbed “fast radio bursts.” At first, because no other telescope in the world had ever seen these bursts, it was assumed that these FRBs were probably just glitches in the telescope’s electronics — but now, 13 years later, a telescope on the other side of the planet in Puerto Rico has detected an FRB. This second FRB detection means that it isn’t just a fluke — and more importantly, that astronomers have absolutely no idea what’s causing them. Some theories have suggested that FRBs originate from an evaporating black hole, or perhaps solar flares from nearby stars, or — and this is coming from one of the astronomers who first recorded the FRBs — they could even be “signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations.”

The first FRB was discovered by chance in 2007, when a team of astrophysicists led by Duncan Lorimer was poring through old archival data from the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia (pictured top). On the night of August 24, 2001, a five-millisecond burst of radio waves erupted from an otherwise calm patch of night sky near the Small Magellanic Cloud and hit the telescope. Lorimer and co analyzed the single burst for years, but without any additional data from further bursts it was impossible to say if it was actually a new astrophysical phenomenon — or just a man-made or local source of interference, such as an electronics glitch or lightning storm. Finally, in 2013, another team finally got the go-ahead to analyze a full year’s worth of data from the Parkes telescope — and sure enough, they found four more similar bursts.

The Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico. Yes, this is where the finale of GoldenEye was filmed.

Up until this point, though, all of these readings were from the same telescope — and, as any scientist will tell you, it’s unwise to draw any conclusions from just a single patient or case study. Now, however, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico — almost 10,000 miles away from Parkes — has detected a fast radio burst as well. Now, some 13 years after it was first detected, and seven years of random-anomaly purgatory, astronomers are taking the FRB very seriously indeed.

As for what causes FRBs, no one knows — and that’s why the astronomical community is so darn excited. The 2013 Parkes study, which found four bursts while looking at a tiny patch of sky for a year, suggests that FRBs are actually quite common, perhaps occurring as regularly as once every 10 seconds. FRBs are also intensely bright. Such regularity and intensity probably rules out a few likely origins, such as the evaporation of black holes or the merger of neutron star pairs. Gamma ray bursts have the right kind of intensity, but they only happen once a day or so. One possible explanation is that FRBs are created by magnetars — not fantastical monsters that you might face in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, but rather special neutron stars that can flare up and release as much energy in a millisecond as our Sun releases in 300,000 years.

The Parkes radio telescope in Australia [Image credit: Ian Sutton]Or, of course, the other possibility is that FRBs are produced by some kind of intergalactic extraterrestrial civilization. Speaking to NPR, Duncan Lorimer says with a little bit of chagrin that “there’s even been discussions [about FRBs] in [research papers] about signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations.” Lorimer is referring to a single research paper that explores the possibility of the bursts being intentionally created by an alien civilization to broadcast their existence to the rest of the universe. This is just a theory, of course, but really, we know so little about FRBs that just about any theory is worth investigating at this point. [Read: We’ll find alien life in the next 20 years with our new, awesome telescopes says NASA.]

The next step is to perform real-time triangulation of FRBs to get a better idea of which galaxy they’re originating from. Data from radio telescopes across the world will be analyzed to look for more FRBs, and in the future some telescopes will be specifically tasked with discovering and classifying FRBs. Lorimer, speaking to Scientific American, says, “It’s not very often in astronomy that you get completely new classes of objects coming along, especially ones as strange as these. We are witnessing the birth of an entirely new area of research.”

If there is Alien life than I can guarantee we as humans and our militaries will consider said Aliens as a hostile threat rather than trying to communicate. We fear the unknown instinctively and those of us who might enjoy the fact of alien life would want to make First Contact with that lifeform. If an Alien ship of some kind paid us a visit it’s warm welcome is going to be more than likely a few nukes in it’s face. Hooray for humanity. We already have a space fleet.

Source

Comments

Space

ESPRESSO spectrograph confirms the existence of an earth-like planet near Proxima Centauri

The surface of Proxima b through the eyes of the artist ESO / M. Kornmesser

The ESPRESSO spectrograph confirmed the existence of the earth-like exoplanet Proxima b in the star closest to the Sun. Additional observations made by the tool made it possible to clarify its mass, as well as register a second signal, which theoretically can be explained by the presence of another planet. Accepted for publication at Astronomy & Astrophysics, the preprint is available at arXiv.org.

In 2016, astronomers reported the discovery of the planet at the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth, located about 4.2 light-years from Earth. The celestial body revolves around the star with a period of 11.2 days and is in the habitable zone – this means that the conditions on its surface allow the existence of liquid water.

The discovery of Proxima b was one of the most important milestones in exoplanetary astronomy in recent years, but the limited accuracy of the available measurements of radial velocity and the complexity of the simulation required confirmation of the existence of an earth-like planet.

An international group of astronomers used the new-generation spectrograph ESPRESSO, which is part of the VLT complex, to measure the radial velocity of a star with an accuracy of 30 centimeters per second. The data obtained were three times more accurate than the data of the HARPS spectrograph, an instrument of the same type, but of the previous generation, with the help of which the discovery was made. Combining ESPRESSO observations with past measurements showed that the mass of Proxima b is not less than 1.17 earth masses, which is less than the previous estimate of 1.27 earth masses.

In addition, scientists recorded an additional signal repeating with a period of 5.5 days, which so far they have not been able to explain. Hypothetically, it can come from the second planet: if the assumption is true, then its minimum mass is less than a third of the earth, and it is located at a distance of 0.03 astronomical units from Proxima Centauri (one astronomical unit is equal to the average distance from the Earth to the Sun).

In the past, researchers suspected the existence of another planet in the system – this time the super-earth, on which the year lasts about five years. It is five and a half times more massive than the Earth and may have rings similar to the rings of Saturn, but this discovery has not yet been confirmed.

Continue Reading

Space

It’s time to worry. Planets switched to retrograde motion

© NASA / Tunc Tezel

In May, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter become retrograde – they change the direction of motion in the celestial sphere. Previously, it was considered a bad omen. In fact, in the solar system there is only one real retrograde – Venus. But the discovery of retrograde exoplanets was a complete surprise.

Copernicus explained everything

Even in ancient times, people noticed that planets moving in the heavens sometimes behave strangely, loop. Most of the year they follow from west to east (if they are farther from the Sun than the Earth) and suddenly turn around, back down. The moment when this happens is called standing.In 1514, Nicolaus Copernicus proved that the Earth is not the center of the universe, but together with other planets revolves around the Sun.

Each celestial body has its own orbit, and the retrograde movement that is visible to us is the result of their superposition. For example, Mars approaches the Earth every two years as closely as possible and, overtaking it, draws an s-shaped loop in the sky.

© NASA / Tunc Tezel

The path of Mars in the celestial sphere in the period from July 2005 to February 2006. It goes from west to east and at the moment of approaching the Earth makes a loop. For a couple of months his movement seems retrograde to us.

Venus and Uranus versus all

All planets in relation to the Earth for a short time move backward, but this is only an appearance. Real retrogrades do not physically rotate like the rest. In the solar system, it is only Venus. If we were above the north pole of Venus, we would see that it rotates clockwise around its axis. Earth and other planets are against.It is believed that planets form together with a star from one protoplanetary disk. In theory, their orbits should lie in the same plane, and the directions of rotation in the orbit and around the axis should coincide. Why Venus is not like this is not yet clear.

Although scientists note its strong similarity with the Earth – these planets are even called twins. One of the explanations is that the processes occurring in the bowels and atmosphere have slowed the rotation of Venus so much that it stopped at some point, and then began to spin in another direction.

The distant ice giant Uranus also looks like a retrograde. It lies on its side relative to the plane of its orbit, and pecks down the north pole, which makes Uranus seem to rotate clockwise. But if you put it normally, it will become normal. Scientists believe that billions of years ago, Uranus collided with a large cosmic body and turned over in space. Another hypothesis is that in the past the planet had a massive system of rings that caused resonance, rocked it and deployed.

General rules apply to planetary moons. For example, the Earth rotates counterclockwise, and so does the Moon around the Earth. But one of the 13 moons of Neptune – Triton – is “against the coat.” So, scientists conclude, Triton did not belong to Neptune, was an independent small body, until Neptune captured it from the Kuiper belt. By the way, Pluto, similar in composition to Triton, is also retrograde. In part, this contributed to its transfer to the category of dwarf planets.

© Illustration by RIA Novosti. NASA / JPLRetrograde motion of Triton. This is the only major satellite in the solar system that moves in orbit against the course of its planet.

Anomalies of hot jupiters

This is what our system is completely devoid of – planets that would move in orbits against the rotation of the Sun. For a long time, astronomers believed that this should be everywhere. But in 2009, they discovered the first exoplanet with a retrograde orbit at the star WASP-17 in the constellation Scorpio.WASP-17 b is the largest and least dense exoplanet known. Such gas giants are called hot jupiters.

Its retrograde intrigues scientists. Smadar Naoz from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Astrophysics at Northwestern University ( USA ) proposed a possible mechanism: the mutual influence of giant planets during migration closer to a star or a brown dwarf. But its implementation requires the coincidence of too many conditions, and this is unlikely. Nevertheless, the astrophysicist put forward a bold hypothesis that such retrograde jupiters are not uncommon – a quarter among those observed. However, the existence of the hot Jupiters themselves is still waiting for its explanation.

Continue Reading

Space

A space object that changes the concept of the Universe is discovered: An unthinkable ancient galaxy

Photo: NRAO / AUI / NSF / S. Dagnello

Scientists at the Institute for Astronomy of the Max Planck Society in the UK announced the discovery of the oldest massive galaxy DLA0817g, which arose just 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang. It has a disk, which can change astronomers’ ideas about the mechanisms of galaxy formation. An article by astronomers is published in the journal Nature.

Researchers discovered the galaxy using the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) radio telescope complex. This ancient object was named Wolf Disc – in honor of the astronomer Arthur Wolf. It has become the farthest spinning-disk galaxy of all detected so far, and its cosmological redshift is 4.26.

The light from it flew 12.2 billion years, but due to the expansion of the Universe, the galaxy is currently at a distance of 24.4 billion light years. The rotation occurs at a speed of 272 kilometers per second, which is comparable to the rotation speed of the Milky Way.

According to modern models, massive galaxies are formed from the mergers of smaller mass galaxies and clusters of hot gas. These collisions prevent the formation of disks characteristic of the Universe of this age.

Therefore, the existence of the Wolf Disc will force astronomers to reconsider the mechanisms of the appearance of such space objects. DLA0817g probably accumulated cold gas, but the question of how he managed to maintain a stable disk with such a large mass remains open.

Scientists also found that the star formation rate in the Wolf Disk is ten times higher than the star formation rate in the Milky Way. According to astronomers, he was one of the most productive galaxies in the early Universe.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

DO NOT MISS

Trending