Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Listen project, a program established to search for communication signals from intelligent extraterrestrials has detected some unexplained signals coming from distant galaxies. The astronomers working on the project detected 15 repeated fast radio bursts or FRBS coming from a Dwarf Galaxy located 3 billion light years away from the Earth. The project has termed the FRBs as the FRB 121102. For the unfamiliar, FRBs are short and bright pulses of radio emission that are usually detected from far away galaxies.

FRBs from dwarf galaxy detected

The FRBs were detected on Saturday, September 2, through the Green Bank Telescope located in a distant region of West Virginia. The telescope identified the signals from an isolated corner of the galaxy, which was then studied by the astronomers associated with the project. The FRB 121102 was first detected in 2012 on November 2, from where it gets the name.

In 2015, the FRB 121102 was the first Fast Burst Radio to repeat itself. Emily Petroff, a scientist associated with the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy stated in an article on NCBI that the repeating FRB source is an irregularity in the population currently and is the only one of its kind. She further stated that the scientists are trying their best to find more about these FRBs.

However, the small population of such occurrences cis a hindrance for researchers.

Only 30 FRBs have been discovered and 29 of those just given off just one burst. The remaining one has led to scientists finding over 200 bursts. However, in the recent occurrence, 15 bursts were emitted from the same source within a short period of time.

Such an event has not been witnessed before and scientists said that the 15 bursts came in from a frequency that was much higher than what is normally seen, peaking at almost 7 gigahertz.

Telescope picks up large amount of data

The data was first observed by researchers Vishal Gajjar from UC Berkeley. The telescope located in West Virginia collected data weighing 400 TB over five hours of observation.

During that period, the telescope recorded that the bursts came in frequency bands measuring between 4 to 8 GHz. The huge amount of collected data was then combed to detect unique short pulses from the source emitting from the broad frequencies. Breakthrough Listen project in its press release stated that the researchers are analyzing the FRBs further to understand this anomaly and deduce whether they are indeed communication signals from intelligent extraterrestrials or not. However, according to Newsweek, "Despite widespread speculation, the possibility of the signals coming from an advanced alien civilization has been largely ruled out."