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Astronomers Have Detected A Repeating Fast Radio Burst 3 Billion Light Years Away

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Aliens? I wouldn’t be surprised, with all the crazy stuff going down in our world right now.

According to CNN, a group of astronomers have apparently found a strange, rapidly repeating radio burst “emanating from a dwarf galaxy located 3 billion light years away.”

FRB are intense but brief flashes of radio frequency emissions and these typically last milliseconds. 

The Indian Express

I’m not going to lie. That kind of gives me goosebumps, and makes the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

It’s probably naive to think that we are the only life out there, when there are billions of planets in billions of galaxies as far as we can even imagine in space.

But, have you SEEN movies like Independence Day (Yes, I realize this film came out in 1996, but it is the first thing I thought of), and the other alien-invasion movies that are too numerous to list?

It never bodes well for Earth.

This cosmic object, which the astronomers very recently detected, is different from the other radio bursts that have been heard before.

Niu, et al/Bill Saxton/NRAO/AUI/NSF/CFHT

They Have Heard Radio Bursts In Space Before?!?

The answer to that question would be, yes. Most notably in 2016 and 2019.

It’s possible that there are different mechanisms that cause the radio bursts, or that whatever produces them is behaving differentlyduring various stages of evolution.


In 2016, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (aka VLA) found an object — named FRB 121102 — about 3 billion light-years away.

Is it freaking wicked cool to anyone else that we have the capabilities to see objects that are billions of light years away?!?

2019 brought about the detection of FRB 190520. Using an incredibly powerful telescope in Hawaii, they found the radio signals were being sent from “the outskirts of a distant dwarf galaxy.”

Astronomers have been able to trace some radio bursts back to their home galaxies, but they have yet to determine the actual cause of the pulses. Learning more about the origin of these bright, intense radio emissions could help scientists understand what causes them.


FRB 121102 — the very first famous repeating radio wave object — sends out a signal, and then will go quiet for months on end.

The FRB 190520 object — found in 2019 — is the only one that “hasn’t turned off” its signal.

What Are Radio Waves In Space?

The first thing I wondered: what are radio waves in space? What the heck are they even talking about?

Radio waves travel very quickly through space. Radio waves are a kind of electromagnetic radiation, and thus they move at the speed of light. The speed of light is a little less than 300,000 km per second. At that speed, a beam of light could go around the Earth at the equator more then 7 times in a second.


Okay. So what do they — or how are they — used?

Messages travel through space as radio waves, just like the radio waves that you receive with a car radio. Each spacecraft has a transmitter and a receiver for radio waves as well as a way of interpreting the information received and acting on it. Radio waves from a spacecraft need to be received on Earth, and are often quite weak when they get there. NASA has huge radio receivers to gather information from space missions. These must be precisely aimed so they can get the waves. Likewise, NASA must precisely aim transmissions to spacecraft so that these ships can hear the messages.


What Are These Space Radio Wave Emissions?

Now, as you might have garnered, I’m not an astronomer by any means. I’m actually more confused than ever. Are there aliens? What do they mean by “an object was found?” And, why the heck do they have to give them super long, weird names? It makes my head hurt.

Apparently, scientists have hypothesized that these radio bursts are coming from dense remnants leftover after a supernova. A supernova being the biggest “explosions that humans have ever seen. Each blast is the extremely bright, super-powerful explosion of a star.”

WHATEVER this object is, just know that astronomers have found a new, strange, rapidly repeating radio burst out in space.

It’s crazy cool, and it’s a super big deal.

For decades, astronomers thought there were basically two kinds of radio source that we could see in other galaxies: accreting supermassive black holes and star formation activity — Now we’re saying that it can’t be an either/or categorization any more! There is a new kid in town and we should consider that when studying populations of radio sources in the universe.

Casey Law, staff scientist in radio astronomy at the California Institute of Technology

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