Fast radio bursts (FRBs) were detected a decade ago, and since then, researchers have been trying to figure out the origin of these enigmatic signals.

A recent study confirmed that the bursts are indeed coming from the outer space. Could this mean that they are a product of the activity of an extraterrestrial civilization?

What are the fast radio bursts (FRBs)?

The FRBs are bursts of energy which last just milliseconds. However, they generate a billion times more energy than any known object in our galaxy. In fact, this energy equals to the one produced by 500 million of our suns! Despite their short duration, it is also believed that the FRBs are traveling over huge distances across the universe.

Till now, more than 20 bursts of this kind have been spotted. Yet, the scientific community didn’t manage to establish their origin and source. The difficulty of tracking the source of these signals has to do with the fact that they are usually detected with single-dish radio telescopes. This kind of telescopes cannot provide enough information about the transmissions coming from beyond our planet.

New study

Now, researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia found that the architecture of the telescope makes it impossible to detect a signal coming from within the Earth’s atmosphere. This basically means that all the FRBs spotted with these telescopes cannot have originated on Earth and are, therefore, coming from the outer space.

The research team used the data from the Molonglo telescope in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to check this hypothesis. Having analyzed a huge amount of data (the telescope generates over 1,000 TB of data a day), the scientists discovered three new signals which had similar characteristics as the previously-detected FRBs. Thus, the team concluded that their hypothesis was correct and all these bursts were coming from the outer space.

In fact, the results of this research are in accordance with a related study published earlier this year, in which a research team established that an FRB was originating in a small dwarf galaxy located 3 billion light-years away from Earth.

At the same time, the new study only managed to rule out the possibility of the FRBs originating within our planet’s atmosphere. The origin of these signals still remains a mystery – we only know that they are probably coming from the constellations Puppis and Hydra.

“Figuring out where the bursts come from is the key to understanding what makes them. Only one burst has been linked to a specific galaxy,” the lead researcher of the study Manisha Caleb said in a press release.

Alien signals?

Could these mysterious signals be coming from an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization trying to communicate their existence to the rest of the universe? Or could they be a product of an advanced alien technology? It is possible, and in fact, Harvard physicist Avi Loeb believes that the bursts could be originating from a giant radio transmitter on an alien planet.

“We examine the possibility that Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) originate from the activity of extragalactic civilizations. Our analysis shows that beams used for powering large light sails could yield parameters that are consistent with FRBs,” a related paper states.

It was even calculated that one would need a planet-sized area to be able to produce the signals of this strength. So if they are indeed a product of the alien activity, we are talking about a highly advanced civilization which possesses much more powerful technologies than we do.

All this sounds fascinating, but at the moment, it’s just a theory. Let’s hope that scientists find something more conclusive in the future.