Categories: world

Signals from space: Five theories of what they are

Image copyrightGetty Images CaptionsA nebula of stars Mysterious signals have been taken from distant galaxies. When fast radio outbreaks or…

 A nebula of stars

Image copyright
Getty Images


A nebula of stars

Mysterious signals have been taken from distant galaxies.

When fast radio outbreaks or FRBs, as they are called, when the earth’s telescope shines brightly for a few milliseconds and then disappears.

Astronomers have discovered dozens over the past decade &#821

1; and have just announced that they found more of them, including a rare repetitive signal.

We don’t know exactly what they are or where they come from, but here are five suspects:

A fast spinning neutron star

When stars explode and die, they can end up as fast as spinning neutron stars. Astronomers believe that those in a region with a high magnetic field can create the strange signals.

Image copyright
Getty Images


Artist impression of a neutron star

“Something like a neutron star fits the bill reasonably well actually,” says dr. Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

“But exactly what physics is about to produce this very energetic outbreak of radio waves we don’t really know yet.”

Two stars merging

Two neutron stars colliding with each other are another possibility.

According to Shriharsh Tendulkar, an astronomer at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, this is one of the main theories, but the scenario only works for cosmic signals that are only seen once, as the stars are destroyed in the process. 19659007] “It’s a disastrous event – it doesn’t work for fast radio blast reps,” he says.

Most of the fast radio outbreaks occupied by telescopes over the past decade or so are seen once and then disappear.

However, there have been found two dubious signals that fail in life over and over again – and for these there must be another explanation.


A flash is a fast spinning neutron star that collapses itself and forms a black hole.

Again, this ends in the destruction of the star, so it could not produce a repetitive signal.

Black hole

Black holes involved in many theories – from a neutron star falling [19659000] Image copyright
NASA / JPL-Caltech


Artist’s concept of a black hole

Alien Life Form

While some believe the signals are completely natural in origin, others have speculated that they may be evidence of extraterrestrial activity.

Image copyright
Getty Images


Radio telescope can detect fast radio outbreaks

Dr Traairs sees this as very unlikely.

“They come from all over the sky quite a lot and many different distances – they must be associated with many different galaxies,” she told Newsday on the BBC World Service.

“It just seems inconceivable that there could be many different extraterrestrial civilizations all deciding to produce the same type of signal in the same way – it just seems very unlikely.”

Follow Helen on Twitter .

Published by