Mysterious signals called fast radio bursts may be generated by advanced alien civilizations, a new study suggests. Specifically, these bizarre flashes of cosmic light might be a leakage from planet-sized transmitters to accelerate interstellar spacecraft in distant galaxies.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs), as the name implies, are millisecond-long flashes of radio emission. Astronomers were able to catalogue just about 20 of these brief, superbright flashes since its first detection in 2007. While these FRBs seem to be coming from galaxies billions of light-years away, the cause of this remains a mystery on which many have suggested to be a sign of extraterrestrial life!
"Fast radio bursts are exceedingly bright given their short duration and origin at great distances, and we haven't identified a possible natural source with any confidence," said theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "An artificial origin is worth contemplating and checking."
Researchers were able to calculate the flashes and found that a solar-powered transmitter could beam FRB-like signals across the cosmos but there’s a catch- it would require a sunlight-collecting area that’s twice the size of our planet to generate the needed energy. They said as long as the structure’s water-cooled, such can withstand the scorching heat. While the work so far remains speculative and is still well beyond our current technology, researchers say this explanation is within the realm of possibility based on the laws of physics.
But why would such structure be built by aliens?
Well, according to researchers' calculation, a transmitter capable of generating FRB-like signals blast interstellar spacecraft, weighing 1 million ton
s or so, to incredible speed. "That's big enough to carry living passengers across interstellar or even intergalactic distances," lead author Manasvi Lingam said in the same statement.
When asked whether he believes that these FRBs are truly coming from aliens, Loeb replied, "Science isn't a matter of belief, it's a matter of evidence. Deciding what’s likely ahead of time limits the possibilities. It's worth putting ideas out there and letting the data be the judge.”