Scientists Detect Extragalactic Radio Signals Arriving in an Unexplained Pattern | IGN

Scientists have picked up on a strange radio signal coming from outer space which seems to repeat in a noticeable pattern.

The Independent reports that although these aren’t the first fast radio bursts scientists have observed, they may well be the most unusual thanks to the regular and predictable pattern in which they occur. Fast radio burst is a term used in radio astronomy to describe very short transient radio bursts, usually under a few milliseconds long. They are said to be caused by unknown, extreme, and unusual places in space.

These oddly regular bursts were picked up by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, which looks specifically for fast radio bursts to determine their origin. In a paper, the scientists described the repetition and pattern as “an important clue to the nature of this object”. They repeat in a 16-day cycle, appearing frequently for four days, occurring at least every hour, and then dropping quiet for the other 12.

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While researchers aren’t sure exactly what’s causing it, they have narrowed the signal down to likely be emanating from the edge of a huge spiral galaxy around 500 million light years away. It is also likely to be from a binary system and could potentially be being disrupted by a black hole, based on previously detected objects with similar characteristics.

Other theories for sources of fast radio bursts even include potential communications from far away alien races, though probably unlikely.

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In other cool space news, while signs of liquid on water on Mars have been confirmed for years, a new study has shown a lake on Mars held salty, mineral filled water.

[poilib element=”accentDivider”]Hope Corrigan is an Australian freelance writer for IGN. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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