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Scientists record three new fast radio bursts – could aliens be trying to communicate with us?

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are radio emissions characterized by their intensity and briefness. Their first recorded appearance was back in 2001, but they were only analyzed and reported about six years later by astronomer Duncan Lorimer and David Narkevic, his student at the time. Dozens more FRBs have been spotted since then, including three FRBs that were detected throughout March by the Parkes Observatory team in Australia. One of these is notable for being the brightest FRB yet.

According to, the FRBs were picked up by the Parkes radio telescope on the first, ninth, and 11th of March. Capturing multiple signals in rapid succession is an oddity in itself since five to six a year is the average. But the FRB from the ninth, known as FRB 180309, is of particular interest to astronomers thanks to its brightness. Its signal-to-noise ratio is 411, which is nearly five times brighter than the then-brightest-known FRB’s ratio of 90. For most other FRBs, their signal-to-noise ratio can fall anywhere between 10 and 40.

What caused FRBs 180301, 180309, and 180311 to occur? That question has yet to be answered. Because FRBs suddenly flash without warning, they’re impossible to predict. Tracing them back to an exact source is just as challenging an endeavor because almost all FRBs have only appeared once with the sole exception of FRB 121102. What is known about FRBs is that they most likely came into being due to a very powerful event. In the milliseconds that they appear, a single FRB releases enough energy to outshine millions of other stars.


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