For the first time in history an unidentified FRB (Fast Radio Burst) from space was recorded as it it occurred. The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society is only recently reporting the finding although the phenomenon occurred on May 15, 2014. These radio bursts are bright flashes of radio waves that emit as much energy in milliseconds as the sun does in twenty four hours.
Although these FRB’s are not a new phenomenon, the first cases recorded in 2007, it IS the first time it’s caught live. Catching the radio bursts as it occurs is vital to determining it’s origin.
According to Fox:
“The burst was identified within 10 seconds of its occurrence,” said Emily Petroff, a doctoral student from Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology. “The importance of the discovery was recognized very quickly and we were all working very excitedly to contact other astronomers and telescopes around the world to look at the location of the burst.”
Sadly Pertroff’s was not fast enough and couldn’t locate the “afterglow” of the radio burst nor could they pin down the source. While the origins is unknown, Pertroff rules out aliens being the source. According to Petroff,
“We’re confident that they’re coming from natural sources, that is to say it’s probably not aliens, but we haven’t solved the case completely. The two most promising theories at the moment are that these bursts could be produced either by a star producing a highly energetic flare, or from a neutron star collapsing to make a black hole. Both of these things would be from sources in far-away galaxies just reaching us from billions of light years away.”
Although the origins still remain a mystery, the team hopes they can learn from this instance and eventually crack the case.
“All we can do is learn from our experience with this discovery and create a more efficient system for next time,” Petroff says. “We still spend a large amount of time looking for fast radio bursts with the Parkes telescope and the next time we are in the right place at just the right time, we’ll be able to act faster than ever before and hopefully solve the mystery once and for all!”
While is unlikely it’s originating from alien life on some distant planet, the possibility still exist that it is.