Mysterious Signal From Space Detected By Telescope Just Days After It Was Switched On

First Posted: May 24, 2017 05:10 AM EDT

The Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) has discovered a huge fast radio burst (FRB) from deep space, within just four days since it started its search. The discovery is impressive because when it happened, researchers were using only eight of the 36 dishes that the telescope is made up of.

According to Deccan Chronicle, the researchers had arranged the dishes in a particular position where eight of them were pointed in different directions. Usually, all 36 dishes are made to point to a very specific point in space.

“We turned the telescope into the Sauron of space – the all-seeing eye,” CSIRO researcher, Dr. Keith Bannister said, as reported by The Huffington Post. Incidentally, Sauron is the dark overload in J.R.R Tolkien's book “Lord of the Rings.”

The new positioning helped the research team detect a huge FRB just days after the telescope was switched on. In fact, one of the scientists described the discovery as being “as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.” The burst that was registered as FRB170107 was found to have originated from the edge of the constellation Leo. The researchers believe that it journeyed through space for 6 billion years, before reaching Earth at the speed of light.

Incidentally, the mysterious FRBs are extremely strong and short radio waves that last for only a few milliseconds. They originate from billions of light-years away. Scientists are still not quite sure about the cause of FRBs; however, they do know that whatever caused them must have been unimaginably powerful.

Furthermore, it is not that easy to detect an FRB, and since the first such discovery in 2007, only a few have been detected. The origin of FRBs is also a highly speculated topic, with causal theories ranging from massive interstellar events as pulsars to enormous alien megastructures such as spacecraft traveling faster than light.

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