I may not be a “space expert” (?), but I have seen the start of Independence Day and also the end of the second act of Contact, and I know that mysterious space signals usually herald either a massive interplanetary invasion or a weird, long-haired Jake Busey blowing your shit up. It’s my belief that if it’s coming from space and we can’t identify it, then, frankly, no good can come of it.
Take fast radio bursts (FRBs), as an example. Although we’ve been detecting them since back in 2007, and have even pinpointed where some of them are coming from, we have no idea what is causing them. FRBs are very short and seemingly extremely high-energy — one lasted for only 1.3 milliseconds and emitted as much energy as the sun would in 80 years.
Now, for the first time, China has managed to pick one up on their Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope), picking up the signals from one of the more famous repeating FRBs, the evocatively named FRB121102. FRB121102 was first detected back in 2012, and then again 2015, with researchers identifying its origin as a dwarf galaxy some three billion light years away.
According to China Daily, the first pulse from FB121102 was picked up on August 30, with “dozens” more pulses being detected since then — more than 20 recorded in the course of one day on September 3. Hopefully this new data will allow scientists further opportunities to figure out just what the fuck is going on, and hopefully — very hopefully — it doesn’t involve the imminent arrival of a bunch of alien warships.
If mysterious space signals are the sort of thing that get you off (and it’s fine if they are), I’d definitely recommend reading about the Wow! signal, which has remained a huge goddamn fucking mystery for nearly half a century.