For just the second time, scientists have recorded the repeat of a mysterious cosmic flash know as a fast radio burst (FRB). The mystery about why these bursts happen and where they come from continues, which always spurs believers to think that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations are creating them.
A number of speculations have been made about what could be causing the radio bursts - with theories ranging from stars exploding to alien life, however, currently, there is little evidence to prove either.
'Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there.
A repeating FRB, however, provides more opportunities for scientists to learn about these radio bursts and where they come from.
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"Until now, there was only one known repeating FRB", said Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
But now, using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) instrument, researchers have detected a second such repeating event. Additional bursts from the repeating FRB were detected in following weeks by the telescope, which is located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.
He said: "Until now, there was only one known repeating FRB". They believe there could be as many as a thousand FRBs in the sky every day.
FRBs are thought to emanate from sources billions of light years away outside our galaxy, the Milky Way.
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The low frequency of this new detection could mean that the source of the bursts differ.
A member the team Dr Cherry Ng from the University of Toronto in Canada said: "That could mean in some sort of dense clump like a supernova remnant".
Artist's impression of the active galactic nucleus shows the supermassive black hole at the center of the accretion disk sending a narrow high-energy jet of matter into space, perpendicular to the disc in this image by Science Communication Lab in Kiel Germany, released on July 12, 2018. "But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see". While most other FRBs detected were recorded at between 1400 megahertz (MHz) and 2000 MHz, these bursts were found at 400-800 MHz, far lower than ever before.
"[We now know] the sources can produce low-frequency radio waves and those low-frequency waves can escape their environment, and are not too scattered to be detected by the time they reach the Earth", he said. "There are some models where intrinsically the source can't produce anything below a certain frequency", team member Arun Naidu of McGill University said in a statement. Some scientists had anxious that the range of frequencies it can pick up would be too low for it to receive the FRBs - but it found far more than expected, and scientists expect it to identify even more.
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While most FRBs have been spotted at wavelengths of a few centimetres, the latest FRBs were detected at wavelengths of almost a metre, which opens up new lines of inquiry, according to the CHIME team. "That tells us something about the environments and the sources".