back to article Boffins closer to solving what causes weird radio bursts from space

A neutron star or a massive black hole may be the source of mysterious and highly energetic radio pulses that light up skies across the universe. A paper published on Wednesday in Nature describes a particular fast radio burst (FRB) source. Scientists have spied about 30 FRBs so far, but FRB 121102 is the only signal source …

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Alien? Unlikely

I'm happy to be convinced that there are intelligent species somewhere other than earth, but these FRB's seem to me to be an unlikely candidate for a deliberate signal.

Whatever is producing them appears to be of such intensity that any lifeform within light years of the source would be destroyed, so I can't see that they would be deliberately instigated.

The only other possibilities would be a nasty accident (some major failure of a power source, perhaps) or a byproduct of some conflict (like nuclear explosions but raised to the nth power) but the fact that they repeat, apparently from a similar source, would argue against either of those being likely.

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Re: Alien? Unlikely

That is the point of this article.

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Alien

Re: Alien? Unlikely

"Whatever is producing them appears to be of such intensity that any lifeform within light years of the source would be destroyed, so I can't see that they would be deliberately instigated."

Well, if you had the ability to produce FRB's, would you be anywhere near the source?

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Coat

Re: Alien? Unlikely

Hmmm, you think it's unlikely to be aliens?

I remember (in the dim and distant past) being at university (studying pinball). Back in those days, roadworks had flashing yellow lamps (simple circuitry, big 9V battery, and no security on the mounting). I remember the night we'd been drinking and several of those lamps appeared in somebody's room, facing ceilingwards, flashing away while we sat there in the dark looking upwards enjoying the show.

Just sayin'.

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Alien

Re: Alien? Unlikely

So, warning lights for roadworks on an interstellar bypass?

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Re: Alien? Unlikely

". . . or a byproduct of some conflict (like nuclear explosions but raised to the nth power) but the fact that they repeat, apparently from a similar source, would argue against either of those being likely."

As I understand it (imperfectly - corrections always welcome), while each burst likely comes from a region of around 100 km - based on the very short duration - they each originate from a different 100 km region and the pinpointing is really just that those bursts all come from a 4,400 ly region of the galaxy.

There are 45 stars within 15 ly of us on Earth (sphere of 30 ly diameter) so, using the principle of mediocrity, we can estimate some 140m stars within a sphere of diameter 4400 ly.

Thus, it seems perfectly possible that these bursts could represent an alien civilisation at war over a large area. Or, perhaps, destroying worlds for a hyper-space bypass. Perhaps they are destroying stars using a method and technology that somehow funnels the blast in a particular direction - to avoid damaging themselves - which might explain the odd polarisation.

Well, it's unlikely because the particular area is a stellar nursery so there are better explanations but my point is that the apparently restricted area of the emissions is not, in itself, a counter argument to it being aliens destroying stuff.

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Re: Alien? Unlikely

Great. So aliens exist, but it turns out they're Vogons.

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Re: Alien? Unlikely

When you say 'any lifeform within light years would be destroyed', aren't you assuming that life forms are all earth like?

Is it not possible that life forms could exist that were immune to the effects of FRBs?

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OTT

"We can not rule out completely the ET hypothesis for the FRBs in general."

Surely a civilisation capable of generating such massive amounts of power could find better things to do with its time.

Maybe the ET hypothesis can't be ruled out completely (in the sense that absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence), but the odds against it being correct here are, well, astronomical.

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Re: OTT

A civilisation capable of generating massive power and then letting unbelievable shitloads of it escape into space. Doesnt sound likely.

A teenager from an advanced civilisation on bonfire night?

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Re: OTT

"A teenager from an advanced civilisation on bonfire night?

Possibly the same on a stag night...

"Hold my Djinnant Onyx and watch this!"

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Re: OTT

A civilisation capable of generating massive power and then letting unbelievable shitloads of it escape into space. Doesnt sound likely.

Wireless charging standards wars?

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Re: Wireless charging standards wars?

Roadside picnic?

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Alien

Re: OTT

A teenager from an advanced civilisation on bonfire night?

Aye, something close. The more adventurous go buzzing other planets, wearing silly antennae and making 'beep beep' noises, others just stay in their cellar with their computers, and there's now one botnetting a cloud of dark matter around a powerful star and making it go 'blip' to annoy the neighbour alien teenager who's just returned home with a gorgeous bombshell who was sufficiently impressed with his antennae and the beeping, and who are now trying to sleep in after some utterly extended interspecies sex.

In other words, juvenile jealousy.

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Alien

Or list humans building a chain of suns in Strata, just for the hell of it.

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Anonymous Coward

"like a laser"

Then the most plausible answer then would be alien sharks.

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like a laser

As I was reading the article I was thinking to myself that this sounds like it may be a maser (essentially, an RF laser). No mention of the bandwidth of the signal in the article (a maser would be narrow-band) although mention of lasers and polarisation hints at it and would fit with a maser. Astrophysical masers, as they are known, are quite common but I don't know how they compare in terms of power.

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Trollface

Re: like a laser

"(essentially, an RF laser)"

But but but lasers ARE RF...!

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Alien

or ..

there is an occassional glitch in the aim of their Death Star? [A long time ago in a galaxy far far away]

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Megaphone

If they are aliens

<LOUD>

THEY ARE APPARENTLY TRYING TO COMMUNICATE IN BRIAN BLESSED'S STYLE

</LOUD>

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Mushroom

Easily understandable quantities

It can apparently release 10 million trillion trillion joules of energy in less than a millisecond during a single pulse.

For the benefit of those of us who struggle to comprehend numbers as vast and abstract as this, I estimate that this is roughly the energy content of a doner kebab scaled up to be around 150 miles across.

1 FRB = 1.2 exa-Doners

HTH :-)

[Icon: Hold the chilli sauce]

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Re: Easily understandable quantities

How do they work out the total power? Are they assuming it's spraying power in all directions?

If it's actually a narrow beam then the power could be much less.

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Anonymous Coward

it's probably that guy in spain you hear on 80m running several kw

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I thought it was Radio stars causing the FRBs

But they were all killed off in the 80s.

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Anonymous Coward

---> thought it was Radio stars causing the FRBs

But they were all killed off in the 80s.

-------------------------------------------------

What? Someone has found Video Stars?

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Mushroom

It's obvious

They are being generated by Hoolovoos - superintelligent shades of the colour blue having sex.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

So how do I tap into this energy source to mine my NeutroCoins?

I'll be mining for FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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SVV
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Plus ca Change....

1960s : strange regular radio signals found originating in deep space. Cue feverish newspaper headlines about "Little Green Men" . Eventually turn out to be pulsars.

2018 : different type of strange radio signals found originating in deep space. Cue feverisn newspaper headlines about extraterrestrial life. SETI professor goes gushing excitedly to media about this, even though a few seconds thought lead to the obvious conclusion that this is obviously some natural cosmic cataclysm due to energies involved......

2019 : SVV retracts sarcastic Reg comment, as scientists decode information in energy blast, discover it's an extraterrestrial "tweet" saying "Humanz got small dickz and small brainz LOL"

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"It can apparently release 10 million trillion trillion joules of energy in less than a millisecond during a single pulse."

It better fucking not be aliens.

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"We can not rule out completely the ET hypothesis..."

Also, "Nigel Farage suggests UK may need second Brexit referendum to settle question of EU membership...."

Can this really be anything-can-happen Thursday?

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Alert

No relax! It's just a bit of RF interference from my old Nokia 3310.

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Alien

Interstellar Bussard ramjet

What would you see if you were behind one of these? Would it be a laser like beam? A quick blip might just mean the exhaust just flashed by. You never know....

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Anonymous Coward

RE. Re. aliens

Has anyone considered that it might be aliens making a star go hypernova on purpose to extract useful energy from it to power their space folding hyperdrive?

Makes sense, look at the energy distribution.

2018 31/10 at 6.39 pm UTC.

Aliens show up

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