In 2007, a physics professor named Duncan Lorimer and one of his students were reviewing the records of a pulsar neutron star investigation, and they discovered a strange astrophysical phenomenon in the archives.
The phenomenon consisted of a great burst of energy that manifests itself in the form of a fleeting radio pulse and lasts only a few thousandths of a second. They called it the "fast radio burst" or FRB.
Since then, many more FRBs have been discovered, including one that has a distinctly intermittent character.
The Brightest Spark In The Universe
These FRBs are described by LiveScience...
"These ultrapower pulses, ultrapowerful of ancient energy, are the brightest glimpses of the universe, but you can not see them. They travel billions of light years across time and space, shine with an intensity close to that of 100 suns and then fade from existence barely milliseconds after they have entered the scope of terrestrial telescopes. As they are radio waves, all this happens totally invisible to the human eye. "
Recently, researchers at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) discovered 72 rapid radio bursts that had previously gone unnoticed.
Meanwhile, thanks to a state-of-the-art telescope in Australia, in October 2018, about 20 new bursts were reported in the last year, almost double those detected in all these years since the first in 2007 .
All this has led astronomers to suspect that perhaps these bursts of energy are a phenomenon that occurs almost constantly and is much more prevalent than previously thought.
Earth is being bombarded by this mysterious energy of uncertain origin. The problem is that we still do not have enough technology to capture it in all its magnitude.
Bursts Of Energy From Another Galaxy
The big question about these rapid radio bursts are their origin, although it has been considered highly probable that they are extra-galactic. The difficulty in establishing the origin of rapid radio bursts is their isolated and fleeting nature, making them complicated to study in a precise and focused way.
Their extra-galactic origin was suggested thanks to the burst discovered in 2012 and known as FRB 121102, which is the one with the unique intermittent character. This blast was located in a dwarf galaxy approximately three billion light-years away from the Milky Way, suggesting an extreme environment.
"If we had one of these sources of energy at the other end of our galaxy," said James Cordes, an astronomer who conducted a study on FRBs, "it would alter the radial waves here on Earth and even things like the signal levels in our smartphones".
"Whatever is happening where the source of this blast is powerful and potentially dangerous" he added.
While the hypothesis of an energy source in another galaxy distant from ours seems to have been tentatively accepted, because if these FRBs came from our own galaxy we would notice their effect, it remains to be determined exactly what in that very, very distant galaxy produces the blast.
More accepted speculations suggest a collision between very dense objects like black holes or neutron stars, but it has not yet been possible to explain how one of these phenomena could release these powerful explosions of energy that travel through the universe for billions of light years, passing through clouds of dust and intergalactic gas and arriving at Earth in the form of fleeting radio pulses.
So several scientists have offered the possibility of a more daring explanation, including some kind of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Avi Loeb, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, said that "perhaps some of the FRBs are associated with artificial radio signals produced by some extraterrestrial civilization." He added that because he could not determine or understand exactly the origin of FRBs, it was necessary to maintain "an open mind and examine all data without prejudice".