A recent study conducted by the American Astronomical Society, published in the Astrophysical Journal, has confirmed that scientists have received a total of 17 fast radio bursts (FRBs) from a single source outside of the Milky Way galaxy since 2011. Unfortunately, because of the immense distance between Earth-based radio satellites and the source, little more can be confirmed about just what, exactly, is transmitting.
By pointing an array of radio telescopes at a specific point in the constellation Auriga, scientists have received multiple bursts of radio waves, significantly greater in energy expended than the background radio interference reverberating through the universe, which scientists believe is a leftover from the Big Bang. These radio bursts, first received in 2011 but not confirmed to be repeating until earlier this year, have each been at least three times more powerful than anything scientists expected to pick up.
Radio waves of this sort could theoretically be produced by naturally occurring phenomena like a supernova created by a star exploding, but because the bursts are repeating, scientists have ruled out such a possibility. In effect, the same star would have to explode repeatedly, from the same location, and at regular intervals in order to transmit such a repeating wave of radio signals.
“Our discovery of repeating bursts from FRB 121102 shows that for at least one source, the origin of the bursts cannot be cataclysmic, and further, must be able to repeat on short [less than one minute] timescales,” the authors wrote in a peer-reviewed paper published on December 16th.