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Repeated Radio Signals Detected From A Galaxy 1.5 Billion Light Years Away

Although we haven't seen much confirmed evidence that there's intelligent life beyond our planet, that doesn't mean we don't see some strange phenomena every now and then that can get our hopes up.

One of the biggest of these intergalactic teases have come in the form of mysterious bursts of radio signals that our planetary scanners occasionally detect. Sure, aliens aren't even close to the only explanation for them, but thinking there could be a sliver of chance that they're doing it can be much more frustrating than knowing that there's no chance at all.

But the good news is we're getting closer to finally getting an answer either way thanks to a powerful radio telescope.

Last year, The CHIME observatory was built in British Columbia, Canada. Every day, it uses four 109-yard long antennae to scan the sky.

Wikimedia Commons | Mateus A. FandiƱo

As the BBC reported, this radio telescope detected 13 bursts of radio signals from another galaxy almost as soon as it started running.

And one of them was an extremely rare signal that managed to repeat.

While the shorter bursts, known as single fast radio bursts, aren't necessarily anything new, the repeating ones have only been detected once before.

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Just to give you an idea, we've now picked up 60 of the single fast bursts and two of the repeating kind...ever.

While scientists estimate that a thousand fast bursts could be zooming through space every day, the repeated ones definitely stand out more.

And this time, they actually have a better idea of where the repeated burst is coming from.

What they've found out is that each part of the repeated bursts are coming from the same source, which is somewhere inside of a galaxy 1.5 billion light years away.

As Shriharsh Tendulkar from McGill University told the BBC, this repeater is very similar to the one detected by another telescope before.

He said, "This tells us more about the properties of repeaters as a population."

Of course, this brings us to the million dollar question: What is causing these repeaters?

Some astronomers suggest that they could be coming from a signal neutron star, as one of those could potentially release these rare radio signals if it has a strong enough magnetic field and it's spinning fast enough.

NASA/CXC/SAO (X-Ray); NASA/JPL-Caltech (Infrared)

Another theory holds that these bursts are the result of two neutron stars merging together.

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If one entity with such incredible magnetic forces around it isn't enough to release repeated radio bursts, perhaps the energy released by two of them crashing into each other can do the job.

Although this is the least popular theory among observers, it's also not impossible that these radio signals are being transmitted on purpose.

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Yes, that would essentially mean that aliens are doing it. Let's face it, we've spent decades trying to figure out if we're alone in the universe and we're pretty unlikely to stop until we finally get a concrete answer.

Even if that answer turns out to be "yes."

h/t: BBC