If 2020 ended on a cliffhanger where an alien life form gets in contact with us Earthlings, would you really be surprised at this point? New radio signals are being detected within our galaxy but they're coming and going a little too quickly for astronomers to determine what exactly they are and where exactly they are coming from. However, the origin of these new radio signals is keeping alien technology as a possibility. At this point, wouldn't it just make sense if a life form from another planet just reached out to say, "Hello!" in the final episode of Earth in this wild year?
This news comes from the Independent, reporting that these short bursts of radio signals "are so short, unpredictable, and originate far away." It is possible that these signals are coming from dying stars but, as some looking for a final bit of excitement this year will hope, they could also be from "alien technology."
The fast radio bursts, also known as FRBs, come and go in a fraction of a second. "There’s this great mystery as to what would produce these great outbursts of energy, which until now we’ve seen coming from halfway across the universe,” says Kiyoshi Masui, assistant professor of physics at MIT, who led an analysis of the FRB’s brightness. “This is the first time we’ve been able to tie one of these exotic fast radio bursts to a single astrophysical object.”
The first detection began on April 27 of this year. Researchers using two space telescopes pickd up multiple X-ray and gamma-ray emissions coming from a magnetar at the other end of our galaxy. A magnetar is a type of neuron star which is believed to have a powerful magnetic field. The researchers observed the same area again the next day, catching the blast and dubbing it FRB 200428.
"We calculated that such an intense burst coming from another galaxy would be indistinguishable from some fast radio bursts, so this really gives weight to the theory suggesting that magnetars could be behind at least some FRBs," said Pragya Chawla, one of the co-authors on a 2007 study and a senior PhD student in the Physics Department at McGill.
Ultimately, much is unknown about the FRB and if it turns out to be a magnetar, astronomers will have more questions about how it sent out such powerful, bright, and unusual bursts of energy and X-ray emissions at the same time.
(Photo: Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)