Astronomers have finally traced the source of a Fast Radio Burst (FRB), the mysterious alien messages from space. FRB is a very rare and distant release of cosmic radio waves that lasts only a few milliseconds.
FRB was first discovered in 2007, by Australia’s Parkes telescope. 17 more have been heard since then, but their source could not be traced. Initially, it was not clear if the bursts are coming from our galaxy or some other distant galaxy. The radio bursts that last only a few milliseconds are capable of generating the energy of 500 million suns.
Since the first radio burst, scientists have been trying to find their source. Pinpointing their location could help figure out what was producing the strange radio messages. In March of 2016, a previously discovered FRB 121102 was found to be repeating by Paul Scholz, a Ph.D. student at McGill University.
A team of Canadian and American Astronomers, to locate the source of FRB observed it for 83 hours over six months. To determine the source, they used the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope operated by US National Science Foundation, to get a precise location in the sky. Using this location data, they used the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii to get a visible-light image of the region.The source of the bursts was found to be a faint dwarf galaxy, three billion light-years away in Auriga Constellation.
The radio signals were initially doubted to be caused by something on earth. One of the astronomers working on this discovery, Shami Chatterjee commented: “For the longest time, we had this situation where the theories about what caused fast radio bursts exceeded the number of bursts we had found, and that is still true today.”
This discovery has been published in multiple papers in Nature and Astrophysical Journal Letters. It could provide vital clues to challenge our perception of the early universe, space, and cosmos.