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Arecibo Radio Telescope Confirms Extra-galactic Fast Radio Pulses

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the Romulan-morse-code dept.

Space 95

schwit1 writes: "The Arecibo radio telescope has confirmed the existence of fast radio pulses. "Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright flashes of radio waves that last only a few thousandths of a second. Scientists using the Parkes Observatory in Australia recorded such events for the first time, but the lack of any similar findings by other facilities led to speculation that the Australian instrument might have been picking up signals originating from sources on or near Earth. The discovery at Arecibo is the first detection of a fast radio burst using an instrument other than the Parkes radio telescope. The position of the radio burst is in the direction of the constellation Auriga in the Northern sky.

"Our result is important because it eliminates any doubt that these radio bursts are truly of cosmic origin," continues Victoria Kaspi, an astrophysics professor at McGill University in Montreal and Principal Investigator for the pulsar-survey project that detected this fast radio burst. "The radio waves show every sign of having come from far outside our galaxy – a really exciting prospect." Exactly what may be causing such radio bursts represents a major new enigma for astrophysicists. Possibilities include a range of exotic astrophysical objects, such as evaporating black holes, mergers of neutron stars, or flares from magnetars — a type of neutron star with extremely powerful magnetic fields." Be warned: All of the above theories could also be wrong. These fast radio flashes could just as easily turn out to be something entirely unpredicted.

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First contact? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432451)

Has anyone tried running these through some pattern recognition algorithms? This could easily be our first contact with a truly extraterrestrial intelligence.

Re:First contact? (3, Insightful)

alphaminus (1809974) | about 4 months ago | (#47432553)

Being extragalactic, if so they would likely be from a long dead civilization, but yeah. Also that would have to be one hell of an antenna.

Re:First contact? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432793)

Stop stating your theories as fact. You know nothing of what lies outside of Earth, Jon Snow. For being nerds, most of the people here are extremely closed-minded and unimaginative. Just because something happens here on Earth doesn't mean, even in the remotest likelihood, that the rest of the universe operates that way. And just because some human has proposed some theory, that doesn't make it true. It is entirely reasonable to posit that if there was some sort of intelligence/civilization that exists on a faraway planet that they might have overcome the limitations of what we consider a "life-time". Maybe they merged into machines with self-repairing properties and now just "exist". Maybe they don't kill each other and destroy themselves like we do. Maybe they mastered their chemistry and have immortality, and thus could exist as a civilization for millions of years. Microbes have had no problem with that. You need to start thinking outside your boring little Earth-box and open your mind to the possibility that there might be shit out there that is different from what we experience here on this puny little planet..

Re:First contact? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432885)

" Just because something happens here on Earth doesn't mean, even in the remotest likelihood, that the rest of the universe operates that way."

So the periodic table of elements is local? How about electrons and photons? Because if they act differently locally, indeed all observations from far away are suspect.

For example, analyzing starlight in a spectroscope depends on how we see light behaving here.

Are you saying you believe it's not certain that it's the same?

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433185)

So the periodic table of elements is local? How about electrons and photons? Because if they act differently locally, indeed all observations from far away are suspect.

For example, analyzing starlight in a spectroscope depends on how we see light behaving here.

I'm not the poster to whom you were replying, but physicists have questioned the equivalence principle. The Fine Structure Constant in particular has been looked at over the past five years as possibly being something like a function of space rather than a true constant (Webb et al). Things like this could obviously have huge implications; the physical laws might be the same universally, but if constants change from place to place (and/or from time to time), then the universe is indeed a pretty bizarre place where local observations of distant phenomena are trickier than they seem. I'm not saying that that's the case, but it's probably not an idea that should be quickly dismissed.

Re:First contact? (1)

DamnOregonian (963763) | about 4 months ago | (#47433379)

I think you meant the Cosmological Principle?

I don't think anyone with much credit questions the Equivalence Principle... Basically our entire modern understanding of gravity and General Relativity falls to pieces without it.

Re:First contact? (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 4 months ago | (#47433609)

Just because a theory causes our understanding to fall to pieces is not sufficient reason not to question everything. A theory is often an approximation to what happens until a better one comes along.

Re:First contact? (1)

DamnOregonian (963763) | about 4 months ago | (#47433803)

LOL.

I thank you for your wisdom, but it's entirely not relevant to above discussion.

While the Equivalence Principle may very well be an approximation (Can has Quantum Gravity?), it is more accurate a model than we have technology to either disprove, or even imply that it is likely to be in question. I'm pretty sure he was talking about the Cosmological Principle, which is actually a questionable axiom, that simply has a few pieces of observational evidence in support of it, and plenty of evidence that casts it in questionable light.

The math of the Equivalence Principle is self evident, in the context of General Relativity, a lot like F = ma. When I say our understanding of gravity falls apart, I mean we can no longer explain why orbitals precess, why time dilates, *why the universe is relative*: *everything* falls apart. If it's wrong in any appreciable manner, it doesn't matter to the universe as a whole except under probably very, very isolated and small ways.

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433781)

No, I meant the equivalence principle, but I was also implying other ideas of "universality", including the cosmological principle. But don't misunderstand me when I say that the principle is questioned; I don't mean that physicists are skeptical of the equivalence principle, only that some of them are probing it to see if it's really as absolute as we think. (And we can someday confirm that it's not, just imagine the physics that would follow!)

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433885)

Typo. The last sentence should be "And if we can someday confirm that it's not, just imagine the physics that would follow!"

Re:First contact? (1)

Wraithlyn (133796) | about 4 months ago | (#47433119)

Stop stating your theories as fact.

He used the word "likely", you blustering twat.

Re: First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47446181)

Well, it got your attention didn't it

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432933)

Not to mention the power output it would need to send a detectible signal from another galaxy.

To all the sci fi fanatics, I know all the "advanced enough civilization could power the world with cow fart fusion" speculation, but the reality is that the power source needed for that signal far exceeds anything we even dreamed of.

Re:First contact? (2)

xevioso (598654) | about 4 months ago | (#47433175)

Well, I can dream of a lot of cow farts, not that I do, but it turns out that cow fart fusion is an integral part of the spacefaring civilization that exists on Regulus VII..

It also powers their weapons, a fact which you shall surely soon discover.

Beacon (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 4 months ago | (#47433453)

It's worth pointing out that a good way to send a signal would be to have a bright but transient beacon, which doesn't itself transmit information (other than "here I am"), but serves to tell others where to point their high-gain radiotelescopes.

This could be what such a beacon would look like.

Not to mention the power output it would need to send a detectible signal from another galaxy.

From the summary: "bright flashes of radio waves that last only a few thousandths of a second.

A high power for a few milliseconds may not take an enormous amount of energy.

Re:Beacon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47435515)

Shouldn't you invest more energy into losing your virginity and getting a wardrobe from this millenium?

Beacon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47441251)

From the summary: "bright flashes of radio waves that last only a few thousandths of a second.

A high power for a few milliseconds may not take an enormous amount of energy.

Not an enormous amount of energy?

Well, it was enough to fry the front end of our receiver; but not before we captured the beginning of a new sequence of pulses. The team and I finally translated the segment as follows:
"People of Earth..."
Hmmm, that can't be good.

Re:First contact? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432585)

Just did. Turns out they're looking for H1-B applications.

Re:First contact? (5, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 months ago | (#47432699)

Just did. Turns out they're looking for H1-B applications.

Unfortunately, we didn't have any openings for reactionless engine technicians or 4th order energy engineers.

Re:First contact? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 4 months ago | (#47433821)

Unfortunately, we didn't have any openings for reactionless engine technicians or 4th order energy engineers.

You misunderstood. It was the aliens looking for cheap human labor that could be exploited. I mean, you go all the way to Alma Crematoria to take a job and it turns out you're becoming an indentured servant, what are you gonna do? Are you going to be able to afford a ticket back to the Earth? You think you'll find another job there, without good language skills and a degree from an Alma Crematorium university? You may wind up picking cabbage ... or working at Walmart. By the time you get there they'll have stores.

Re:First contact? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 4 months ago | (#47435339)

They are looking for people to work on legacy COBOL apps.

5 eons experience needed.

Re:First contact? (1)

wavswpr (2882257) | about 4 months ago | (#47435261)

Just did. Turns out they're looking for H1-B applications.

When decoded it reads as: "Send More Chuck Berry"

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432725)

Azasoth farted, that's all.

First contact? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432789)

And hook up a TV and big speakers to isolate the signal. Then once we decode it, we can transport a volunteer to the alien planet. Though, we should build two, just in case a religious terrorist blows one up. If we do this carefully, with Small moves, it's possible. Small moves.

Re:First contact? (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 4 months ago | (#47432835)

And hook up a TV and big speakers to isolate the signal. Then once we decode it, we can transport a volunteer to the alien planet. Though, we should build two, just in case a religious terrorist blows one up. If we do this carefully, with Small moves, it's possible. Small moves.

If you're going to channel "Contact" at least use the novel instead of the movie. The novel was enormously better. Not that that says much, as the movie was awful.

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433287)

Please tell me the novel doesn't wreck the ending in some weird appeasement to religion like the movie did.

Re:First contact? (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 4 months ago | (#47434457)

Please tell me the novel doesn't wreck the ending in some weird appeasement to religion like the movie did.

Not as I recall. There were other things that the movie ruined too. It's an okay novel, I wouldn't buy a hardcover it's not worth that, but the mass market paperback would certainly be cheap enough to make it worthwhile to read.

Re:First contact? (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 4 months ago | (#47434475)

Please tell me the novel doesn't wreck the ending in some weird appeasement to religion like the movie did.

The novel was written by Carl Sagan, so religion isn't treated gently, and rightly so.

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432821)

The best pattern recognition algorithms are supervised ... that is, we would need an example of what we're looking for in order to see it. The unsupervised algorithms can find regularities, but we would be just as clueless as to what those regularities represent. Trying to determine if a signal is from intelligent life will likely be a very hard problem and will most certainly be determined by humans looking at the signal rather than a patttern recognition algorithm (at least for the first few iterations).

Re:First contact? (2)

r1348 (2567295) | about 4 months ago | (#47433561)

Yes, and the result was dicks. They're sending us dick pics.

Re:First contact? (1)

Lord_Breetai (66113) | about 4 months ago | (#47436987)

Yes, and the result was dicks. They're sending us dick pics.

Clearly they're blueprints [wikia.com] for a dickship.

Re:First contact? (2)

mbone (558574) | about 4 months ago | (#47433625)

One burst from one location in the sky, then weeks or months later, another burst from another location in the sky. I don't think a pattern recognition algorithm is going to help you much.

Re:First contact? (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 4 months ago | (#47433675)

Make Money FAST!!

Re:First contact? (1)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | about 4 months ago | (#47433677)

An extragalactic origin, if correct, would put the source likely millions of light years away. An artificial radio source detectable over that distance would take a truly phenomenal amount of power, on par with stellar events like supernovae or black hole mergers. Or it would need to be very narrowly beamed, in which case how does ET know to point in our direction?

Bear in mind that the entire RF output of our planet (radio waves streaming into space) would not be detectable by Arecibo even 10 light years away. Move the source to a million light years, and remembering the inverse square law, gives you a sense of how much more power you'd need to make an isotropic emitter detectable. It's hard to imagine why an ET would want to do this, assuming they could marshall the stellar energies involved.

Re:First contact? (1)

gewalker (57809) | about 4 months ago | (#47433989)

It is a very narrow beam, but they don't point it in our direction. Imagine a then wedge of laser/maser, etc. light being broadcast outward radially on a continuous basis. As the planet rotates, the wedge sweeps pretty much every angle. As you see the wedge only when it points directly at you, it appears to blink very rapidly

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47435721)

Yes, the closest match was the flatus of Ailuropoda melanoleuca.

Re:First contact? (1)

Nivag064 (904744) | about 4 months ago | (#47436747)

Come in #3, your time is up!

Re:First contact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47447171)

I'm sure someone has ... and I'm sure "we" will never really know the result.

The Elephant in the Room (1)

minogully (1855264) | about 4 months ago | (#47432455)

The summary doesn't mention extra terrestrials. Is this because they don't want to jump to conclusions or is it because the nature of the pulses doesn't appear to be organic?

Re:The Elephant in the Room (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432547)

I'm not saying it's aliens, but...
You're a moron.

Re:The Elephant in the Room (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 4 months ago | (#47433117)

I wish I could mod you up.

Re:The Elephant in the Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432575)

Now there's a name for a radio station OFRR - Organic Free Range Radio! The Greatest Organic Hits of All Time!

Re:The Elephant in the Room (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 4 months ago | (#47432613)

What would an organic RF pulse look like?

Re:The Elephant in the Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433975)

If by organic, he means "natural", then pulsars are an example.
If by organic, he means vegetation, I think bananas are known for their radioactivity...

Re:The Elephant in the Room (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 4 months ago | (#47434407)

The summary doesn't mention extra terrestrials. Is this because they don't want to jump to conclusions or is it because the nature of the pulses doesn't appear to be organic?

When astronomers point a telescope at the sky and see a large bright object, they tend to assume it's a star, not a giant alien lighthouse. If they see a bright flash of light, they assume it's due to some natural process and not an alien strobe-light. Is there some reason they would jump to an "it's aliens" conclusion in this case? You do understand that light is light, right? Even if the wavelength puts it in the radio-frequencies instead of the visible-spectrum? There's no particular reason light in one part of the spectrum is more likely to be made by aliens than natural phenomena.

Re:The Elephant in the Room (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47435845)

Is there some reason they would jump to an "it's aliens" conclusion in this case?

It's in the wording of the article summery. Radio pulse sort of initially brings thoughts of a radio station receiver like in a car or home theater, a purpose constructed signal meant to convey messages. Add in the "might have been picking up signals originating from sources on or near Earth" and it kind of reinforces the sentiment of a constructed signal.

GP isn't the only one making that jump either. There are some posts about decoding it and so on.

Re:The Elephant in the Room (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 4 months ago | (#47437423)

You get a radio pulse every time lightning strikes. I think that this is a fairly unlikely explanation. If it were more regular and had some kind of repeating pattern to it then I'd start thinking galactic navigation beacon or something, but natural pulsars probably work well enough for that already.

Re:The Elephant in the Room (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 4 months ago | (#47438441)

The history of the discovery of pulsars shows that sometimes aliens are seriously considered. In this case, given the distances involved, the energy requirements make it unlikely to be artificial.

Could it be ... (2)

MondoGordo (2277808) | about 4 months ago | (#47432461)

Aliens ...sending us messages a million years ago ... ?

Re:Could it be ... (2)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 4 months ago | (#47432523)

Aliens ...playing with EMPs a million years ago?

Re:Could it be ... (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 4 months ago | (#47433015)

"Playing". Because the best sound comes from a vinyl LP powered by a Magnetar [wikipedia.org] with monster cables, of course.

...Wow, it'd be sad if our first contact was the sound of their bombs killing themselves off.

Re: Could it be ... (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 4 months ago | (#47434365)

Roger Waters "Amused to Death" in reverse.

Re:Could it be ... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 4 months ago | (#47432859)

>Aliens ...sending us messages a million years ago ... ?

Drink your Ovaltine.

Re:Could it be ... (1)

jovius (974690) | about 4 months ago | (#47432931)

While fast radio bursts last just a few thousandths of a second and have rarely been detected, the new result confirms previous estimates that these strange cosmic bursts occur roughly 10,000 times a day over the whole sky.

That's a lot of aliens. Or maybe we are inside of a slow thinking alien's head.

Re:Could it be ... (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 4 months ago | (#47433559)

While fast radio bursts last just a few thousandths of a second and have rarely been detected, the new result confirms previous estimates that these strange cosmic bursts occur roughly 10,000 times a day over the whole sky.

That's a lot of aliens.

Well, since there are 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe [space.com] , not so many. One burst per galaxy every 50,000 years or so.

 

Or maybe we are inside of a slow thinking alien's head.

That's no moon... (1, Offtopic)

jpellino (202698) | about 4 months ago | (#47432467)

... it's a giant submarine http://www.navy.mil/navydata/c... [navy.mil]

Submarines burst communications when they surface. (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 4 months ago | (#47435827)

in order to get them done with little time for someone to detect them and intercept them.

Translation: (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47432469)

Be warned: All of the above theories could also be wrong. These fast radio flashes could just as easily turn out to be something entirely unpredicted.

We've listed several things which could do it, but we really have no freakin' idea of what causes them, so this is all purely speculation.

Re:Translation: (1)

show me altoids (1183399) | about 4 months ago | (#47432997)

Yes, and I have a big problem with them being called "theories." They are at best hypotheses, and likely pure speculation. Scientists get mad when creationists say, "Oh, but you call it the THEORY of Evolution, that means it's not necessarily true!" and say creationists don't know the meaning of the word theory. Ok, then, use it correctly yourselves.

Re:Translation: (1)

show me altoids (1183399) | about 4 months ago | (#47433033)

Okay, reading the article now, it looks like only the Slashdot summary uses the word "theory" in this way, not the article. Still, in general, the point stands.

Message (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47432517)

In Morse code: 'Come in Rangoon.'

Re:Message (4, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#47432557)

"Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

Re:Message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47436133)

Clearly, it's a giant alien techno rave party.

Next discovery will be that the galaxy is vibrating, and in a few billion years we'll start receiving the sound waves from their bass system.

Re:Message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432659)

Watson, c'mere, I "want" you.

difficulty (4, Interesting)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 4 months ago | (#47432521)

How difficult would it be to capture something like this? Couldn't a normal sensor sensitive to this wavelength capture this since the integration time is probably going to be longer than a few thousandths of a second?

Is it an obstacle that this is very rare? Or very faint?

Re:difficulty (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#47432573)

A normal sensor, sure. Just make sure it's the size of Arecibo and pointed right at Auriga.

Re:difficulty (1)

itzly (3699663) | about 4 months ago | (#47432685)

... at exactly the right time

Re:difficulty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47436209)

Is it an obstacle that this is very rare? Or very faint?

Rare, faint, and highly dispersed. Rare means that you need to be operating all the time, looking at a decent-sized patch of the sky. Faint means that you need something the size of Parkes (a 64m-diameter dish antenna) or Arecibo (300m-diameter) to detect it, with a fancy, broadband (>300 MHz bandwidth), cryogenically-cooled receiver. (Or a cheap satellite-dish receiver ... in a 1km-diameter dish. Of which we have none.)

"Dispersed" means that the signal doesn't arrive all at once: the high-frequency end arrives first, and it gradually sweeps down to the low-frequency end (over a few hundred milliseconds). This is a characteristic of short pulses that have passed through a few kiloparsecs of interstellar plasma - and the amount of dispersion, for these fast radio bursts, tells us that they're not just interstellar in origin, but extragalactic. Anyway, to detect a dispersed pulse, you need to add together the signals in each different frequency channel with appropriate delays, so that they're all aligned in time, and add up to something detectable. Since you don't know how much dispersion there's going to be, you have to do this hundreds of times, for different amounts of dispersion. And that's computationally expensive.

Isn't it obvious? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432539)

Clearly these FRBs need to be downconverted to audio so a deaf guy can just "hear" the data in them, right on up to the higher order harmonics.

Pulsar or Neutron Star? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432579)

Pulsar or Neutron Star? That would be my first instinct. I am not an Astronomer however,

Mmmm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432587)

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Get Jodie Foster and Tom Skerrit on the phone... (2)

bi$hop (878253) | about 4 months ago | (#47432611)

...they have experience with this kind of thing.

Get Jodie Foster and Tom Skerrit on the phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433629)

More like Emilio Sanchez and the Jesuits.

Those signals were just decoded... (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 4 months ago | (#47432615)

"Please stop broadcasting re-runs of welcome back kotter.....!"

Re:Those signals were just decoded... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433671)

We want 'Single Female Lawyer'!

Is so difficult? (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 4 months ago | (#47432693)

My bet is that someone are saying "hello, have anyone there listening?" and they may be closer than researchers believe.

Re:Is so difficult? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47432759)

My bet is that someone are saying "hello, have anyone there listening?" and they may be closer than researchers believe.

Like in the movie CONTACT? haha

Re:Is so difficult? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#47432815)

Why do you think that? What do you know that they don't?

The most likely content... (1)

raftpeople (844215) | about 4 months ago | (#47433697)

"Sirs, I am happily to provide benefit of a unique opportunity. The Bank of Ursa Major has..."

VMs are the answer (-1, Offtopic)

normanjd (1290602) | about 4 months ago | (#47432751)

Do you use VMs? ALL of our servers are now running on VMware at remote locations. I can't automate maintenance, but it does not matter if I do it from the office or at home as I am remoting either way... Set up a snapshot to roll back if there is a problem, and you can at least make it a bit more comfortable if you have to be up at odd hours...

Re:VMs are the answer (1)

normanjd (1290602) | about 4 months ago | (#47432795)

Eh? Posted on wrong thread for some reason. Where is delete button when you need it???

Message Decoded.... (1)

tekrat (242117) | about 4 months ago | (#47433021)

It reads.... "If you go to Z'ha'Dum, you will die".
Apparently it's a personal message for Commander Sheridan.

If it is aliens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433053)

If aliens are really transmitting radio signals in an attempt to communicate with other life, the only thing they would be likely to say is "We still can't figure out FTL travel/communication. If you've figured it out, please send help. We're stuck in a single star system."

Decoded Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433219)

"Send more Chuck Berry"

Alien Farts (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 4 months ago | (#47433289)

Problem solved.

Next?

Obvious answer.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47433291)

"These fast radio flashes could just as easily turn out to be something entirely unpredicted."

Like someone stalled on the hyperspace bypass.. they keep trying to restart the ship but it just will not catch...

Perhaps from a Species of Dad-Holograms (1)

Maltheus (248271) | about 4 months ago | (#47433391)

We need to send in Jodie Foster, NOW!

Quantum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433411)

Quantum mechanics says the photon arriving here will have the same amount of energy as always, just the expectation value diminishes with distance.
So how many photons comprise these ultra short pulses? And what is the distribution with time? Random or periodic?
(ok, I'll RTFA)

LGM revisited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433655)

People hear "radio bursts" and think "ET". Last time it was the LGM-signal which turned out to be a pulsar, something no-one had heard of before. Why is that? Is humanity so desperate and lonely or did we watch too many SciFi-shows and films?

Re:LGM revisited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47433909)

The Universe is cold and lonely. If it is empty and there is no other species out there, it re-enforces there is no hope for us.

Galaxy Far Far Away... (1)

MacroSlopp (1662147) | about 4 months ago | (#47434819)

Given the speed of light. It sounds to me like this was something that happened Long Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away...

This seems to ring a bell, but I can't place it.

Re:Galaxy Far Far Away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47435325)

Please don't try. We've all seen that movie, so making sure we know you have is somewhat redundant.

All of the above theories could also be wrong. (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 4 months ago | (#47436937)

These fast radio flashes could just as easily turn out to be something entirely unpredicted.

Music for Airports? Bowie? Art Bell?

Missing link to actual scientific article (2)

amaurea (2900163) | about 4 months ago | (#47437025)

As usual with astronomy articles, it can be found on the arXiv [arxiv.org] , freely available to all. It goes into much more detail than the article linked in the summary. Here is the abstract:

Recent work has exploited pulsar survey data to identify temporally isolated, millisecond-duration radio bursts with large dispersion measures (DMs). These bursts have been interpreted as arising from a population of extragalactic sources, in which case they would provide unprecedented opportunities for probing the intergalactic medium; they may also be linked to new source classes. Until now, however, all so-called fast radio bursts (FRBs) have been detected with the Parkes radio telescope and its 13-beam receiver, casting some concern about the astrophysical nature of these signals. Here we present FRB 121102, the first FRB discovery from a geographic location other than Parkes. FRB 121102 was found in the Galactic anti-center region in the 1.4-GHz Pulsar ALFA survey with the Arecibo Observatory with a DM = 557.4 \pm 3 pc cm^{-3}, pulse width of 3\; \pm 0.5 ms, and no evidence of interstellar scattering. The observed delay of the signal arrival time with frequency agrees precisely with the expectation of dispersion through an ionized medium. Despite its low Galactic latitude (b = -0.2^{\circ}), the burst has three times the maximum Galactic DM expected along this particular line-of-sight, suggesting an extragalactic origin. A peculiar aspect of the signal is an inverted spectrum; we interpret this as a consequence of being detected in a sidelobe of the ALFA receiver. FRB 121102's brightness, duration, and the inferred event rate are all consistent with the properties of the previously detected Parkes bursts.

Science requires a leap of faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47439375)

I just believe blindly that because our science works here that science works the same everywhere. (Ok, that was a snarky way of expressing the equivalence principle. But the founding modern scientists believed that God made everything, and etc.)

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