Researchers detect first repeating radio bursts to come from distant galaxy

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Breakthrough Listen, a $100 million project to find signs of alien life in the universe, announced Wednesday that it detected 15 powerful, repeating radio pulses coming from a galaxy 3 billion light years away.

The radio activity was firs detected by Breakthrough Listen postdoctoral researcher Vishal Gajjar with the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia.

Fast radio bursts from across the universe have been detected before, but this marks the first time they have been repetitious, suggesting they’re not random but rather a planned disbursement from an advanced civilization used to power power space aircraft.

Such mechanics are already in the works on Earth, where Breakthrough Starshot is working on a plan to use “powerful laser pulses to propel nano-spacecraft to our solar system’s nearest star, Proxima Centauri,” the University of California, Berkeley, said in a press release.

“Bursts from this source have never been seen at this high a frequency,” said Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center and of the Breakthrough Listen program.

However, researchers do not know at this time what the radio bursts mean for sure. There could be many non-extraterrestrial explanations, including the possibility they’re just coming from rotating neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields.

“Whether or not fast radio bursts turn out to be signatures of extraterrestrial technology, Breakthrough Listen is helping to push the frontiers of a new and rapidly growing area of our understanding of the universe around us,” Siemion said.