If you’re a science fiction buff then you no doubt remember the 1997 sci-fi drama “Contact” starring Jodi Foster as Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway – an astronomer looking for signs of life in the vast universe. Arroway continues probing space, redirecting her massive telescopes daily, hoping to make contact when she suddenly begins hearing a faint radio signal coming from deep space.
Excited by the possibility she frantically attempts to adjust the frequency, hoping to get a clearer sound, finally the signal becomes more distinct. The evidence of perhaps extraterrestrial life in a far off galaxy may, at last, be at hand, after an elaborate design is complete Arroway is chosen as the first human to make “Contact.”
That acclaimed beautifully produced film at the time was fiction, however, what astronomers are hearing in deep space today may, in fact, turn fiction into reality.
Scientists have discovered unusual and “mysterious radio bursts” that are over 3 billion light-years away from Earth, thanks to an artificial intelligence program at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are perhaps the most mysterious anomaly in space, with many having unknown origins. According to a new study, an FRB has been spotted coming from a galaxy 500 million light-years from Earth and it’s repeating every 16 days, and scientists don’t know why.
The radio bursts classified as FRB 180916.J0158+65, sends out radio wave bursts for a period of 4-days, stops for a period of 12- days, then repeats the pattern again.
According to a pre-published study, the initial 28 patterns were first observed between September 2018 and October 2019. “We conclude that this is the first detected periodicity of any kind in an FRB source,” the researchers wrote in the study.
Adding, “The found location is radically different from the previously located repeating FRB, but also different from all previously studied FRBs,” said Kenzie Nimmo, a doctoral student at the University of Amsterdam.
Nimmo continued, “The differences between repeating and non-repeating fast radio bursts are thus less clear and we think that these events may not be linked to a particular type of galaxy or environment. It may be that FRBs are produced in a large zoo of locations across the universe and just require some specific conditions to be visible.”
First discovered in 2007, FRBs are relatively new to astronomers and their origins are mysterious. According to ScienceAlert, some of them can generate as much energy as 500 million suns in a few milliseconds.
In a September 2019 post SETI wrote; “They come from all over space and arranging cooperative alien behavior when even one-way communication takes many billions of years seems unlikely — to put it gently.”
However, astronomers from Harvard University say they cannot rule out that FRBs may stem from advanced civilizations deep in space.
If the truth is indeed out there, it might just be 3 billion light-years away from Earth.
According to NASA’s website, the government agency is heightening the search for alien life using and advanced technology dubbed “technosignature.”
Which “are signs or signals, if observed, would allow us to infer the existence of technological life elsewhere in the universe. The best known technosignature are radio signals, but there are many others that have not been explored fully.”
Under the scope of looking for extraterrestrials, “technosignatures” have generally been limited to communication signals, but any kind of evidence, such as “radio or laser emissions, signs of massive structures or an atmosphere full of pollutants could imply intelligence,” NASA added.
“Complex life may evolve into cognitive systems that can employ technology in ways that may be observable,” NASA wrote in its 2015 Astrobiology Strategy paper. “Nobody knows the probability, but we know that it is not zero.”
What seems apparent is that fiction may indeed become reality, in that we’re not alone.