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First results from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), taken between 2018 and 2019, show the detection of hundreds of radio waves from space. Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), first discovered in 2007, are very short but intense pulses of light waves which are very rare.
Kaitlyn Shin, a team member from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the discovery by CHIME will be paving the way for scientific understanding going forward.
She said: “Before CHIME, there were less than 100 total discovered FRBs.
“Now, after one year of observation, we’ve discovered hundreds more.
“With all these sources, we can really start getting a picture of what FRBs look like as a whole, what astrophysics might be driving these events and how they can be used to study the universe going forward.”
FRBs are notoriously hard to perceive as they usually only last for a millisecond, are unpredictable and vanish quickly.
Kiyoshi Masui, assistant professor of physics at MIT, said: “The thing about FRBs is that they are really hard to catch.
“You have to have your radio telescope pointed at just the right place at just the right time and you can’t predict where or when that will be.”
Even modern telescopes are only able to observe a small patch of the night sky at any one time, meaning lots of FRBs go unseen.
However, CHIME has managed to record 535 new FRBs in just one year as the stationary telescope captures signals from half the sky.
Rather than pointing the telescope in a particular direction, the device uses the natural rotation and axis of the Earth to record data meaning it is able to look in “thousands of directions simultaneously”, Ms Masui noted.
Many of the radio bursts have travelled across the stars from distant galaxies and were likely created by incredibly energetic sources but scientists have not been able to determine an exact source.
Since the discovery of the radio waves, theorists have speculated the origin of the bursts, with some claiming they could be extraterrestrial.
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One theorist, Prof Loeb, wrote in American Scientist: “It’s a long shot, but could at least some of these energy blasts from across the universe come from extraterrestrial civilisations?”
“It would be arrogant to think we’re alone in the universe.”
The detection of the rare radio waves comes as the Pentagon prepares to release a report on UFO sightings.
The Pentagon report is set to be released by June 25.
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