Scientists recently detected more alien radio signals using the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

Quick bursts of radio energy, known as Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are a relatively new phenomenon, of which scientists have been unable to determine the origin. The first FRB was discovered in 2007 when astronomers looked through Parkes Radio Telescope archival data. Additional bursts were discovered in the archival data from the Parkes Radio Telescope, and in data from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico.

Parkes Radio Telescope

The Parkes Radio Telescope. (Credit: Stephen West/Wikimedia Commons)

On May 14, 2014, a Fast Radio Burst was observed in real-time for the first time using a technique developed by a team of astronomers in Australia led by astronomer Emily Petroff. Detecting a FRB in real-time enabled researchers around the world to investigate the alien radio signal using twelve telescopes to scan multiple wavelengths. The array of instruments failed to detect light in other wavelengths. But this absence of light in other wavelengths helped researchers eliminate several possible sources for the signal, such as gamma-ray bursts from exploding stars and supernovae.

Adding to the mystery, Petroff and her team recently detected five more FRBs in data from the Parkes Radio Telescope, including the first double burst FRB ever detected.

Neutron star mergers and the collapse of a supra-massive star into a black
hole are some of the proposed origins for these mysterious FRBs. But researchers say the newly detected double burst doesn’t really fit the profiles of these possible explanations.

The double burst FRB adds to the already mysterious Fast Radio Burst phenomenon. Scientists continue studying these fascinating signals from space; efforts to this point that have eliminated many of the likely astronomical explanations. Although there are still astronomical phenomena that could prove to be the origin of these strange signals, an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization as the source of FRBs can’t be ruled out, and is an interesting possibility.

The team’s recent FRB discovery is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.