Over the past 15 years, scientists from all over the world have been picking up strange signals from outer space, and they all have several factors in common. They last a fraction of a second, and arrive with the same amount of energy our sun would emit over the course of a month (albeit in the form of radio waves, so most of us would never notice).
What’s most bizarre about these signals though, is that they don’t appear to line up with any known natural phenomenon. All ten of the bursts that have been recorded over the years, have a near identical pattern. Their “dispersion measures” are all being recorded in multiples of the same exact number. 187.5.
Unlike most strange phenomena however, the scientific community hasn’t been scrambling to find a “normal” explanation. These signals are so inexplicable, that many scientists are willing to accept the possibility that they may in fact, be coming from an alien civilization.
They claim there is a 5 in 10,000 probability that the line-up is coincidence. “If the pattern is real,” says Learned, “it is very, very hard to explain.”
Cosmic objects might, by some natural but unknown process, produce dispersions in regular steps. Small, dense remnant stars called pulsars are known to emit bursts of radio waves, though not in regular arrangements or with as much power as FRBs. But maybe superdense stars are mathematical oddities because of underlying physics we don’t understand.
It’s also possible that the telescopes are picking up evidence of human technology, like an unmapped spy satellite, masquerading as signals from deep space.
That just happens to be the most reasonable explanation so far. By all appearances, this does not look natural. Each burst of energy encompasses a wide range of the radio spectrum, and contain a massive amount of energy. They’re so powerful, that researchers suspect that bare minimum, they are coming from across our galaxy, with some estimates placing their origin at billions of light years away.
On the surface, this would lend itself to a natural phenomenon. However, the incredibly short duration of the signal indicates that the source is probably several hundred kilometers in size, which is far smaller than the pulsar stars that would normally cause this kind of energy burst. And let’s not forget the disturbing regularity the number 187.5 that shows up in this signal.
The most tantalizing possibility is that the source of the bursts might be a who, not a what. If none of the natural explanations pan out, their paper concludes, “An artificial source (human or non-human) must be considered.”
“Beacon from extraterrestrials” has always been on the list of weird possible origins for these bursts. “These have been intriguing as an engineered signal, or evidence of extraterrestrial technology, since the first was discovered,” says Jill Tarter, former director of the SETI Institute in California. “I’m intrigued. Stay tuned.”
If this is coming from an alien civilization, they would obviously be highly advanced. To emit a signal of this magnitude would require a level of technology that we can’t even begin to imagine. While some of the researchers question why aliens would send out a signal on such a wide band of the radio spectrum, to me it makes sense. If they were trying to contact another species from across the stars, they might not know what radio frequency they’re listening to.
Either way, it’s safe to assume that whoever was the intended recipient of this signal, it’s certainly not us. If it came from billions of light years away, or even from within our own galaxy, they might even be extinct by now. The signal was probably intended for someone in their own backyard, so to speak.
Whatever this is, whether it’s a natural phenomenon we don’t yet understand, or if it’s aliens, or even if it’s from some top-secret spy satellite, one thing is for sure. The universe is one hell of a strange place, and we’re just scratching the surface.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.