Astronomers investigate a mystery cycle of radio flashes sent from deep space to see if they can contain the answer to bizarre phenomena.
The so-called fast radio bursts (FRB) are intergalactic flashes of light that release as much energy in just a few milliseconds as the sun did in a century.
Astronomers first found the FRB in 2007, but the cause of the strange eruptions remains a mystery nearly 15 years later.
The uncertainty about the origins of the radio waves has led to theories that it could be anything to merge stars into crazy ideas about advanced alien civilizations.
Study authors said, “The discovery that at least some Fast Radio Bursts iterations have precluded catastrophic events as precursors to these specific outbursts.”
Scientists have now discovered 100 FRBs, the majority of which are one-off and flare up once before disappearing.
But in January, astronomers said they found one of the FRB’s ‘repeater’ classes, which appears in a 16-day activity cycle.
After a four-day eruption, it goes silent for 12 days before starting all over again.
Now experts have found another one.
Researchers tracked FRB for five years using the Lovell telescope – a sample 250ft wide radio dish at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK.
There, they found evidence of a 157-day cycle that was active for 90 days before going silent for 67 days, their new study said.
Although scientists have detected the waves, they still don’t know what caused it.
They believe it could be caused by a fluctuation in the axis of rotation of a magnetized neutron star, or they could link the orbital movements of a neutron star in a binary system.
Duncan Larimer, co-author of the West Virginia study, said, “This exciting discovery shows how little we know about the origins of FRBs.
“Further observations of a larger number of FRBs will be needed to gain a clearer picture of these periodic sources and clarify their origin.”