Scientific Breakthroughs

Fast Radio Bursts From Space Could Be Alien Spacecraft, Researchers Say

Fast Radio Bursts From Space Could Be Alien Spacecraft, Researchers Say
PHOTOGRAPH: The SETI Institute | Fast Radio Bursts may actually be generated by advanced alien civilizations, a new study suggests.

Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) or high-energy light bursts could be the result of an alien transmitter powering spacecraft. Such is the explanation of two researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for the phenomena of FRB from distant galaxies.

Lasting for less than five milliseconds, such bursts were first sighted in 2007 at Parkes Observatory in Australia. At first, they were believed to be cataclysmic occurrences like a star going supernova or black holes merging.

In 2015, however, an astronomer from McGill University traced 11 bursts from one source in space: a dwarf galaxy three billion light years away. Repeated instances of the phenomenon have made scientists ponder if the source is alien technology found in space.

Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam gave an explanation that does not involve any new physics. The two believe that alien technology is harnessing the energy from a star to power a radio transmitter and send spacecraft or probes.

The light bursts entail a “photonic propulsion” by which the alien spaceships travel at near light speed. Similarly, the radio-wave beams from a planet-sized transmitter may also power the light sails of those crafts.

Lingam said the reason for the transmitter’s enormity is that the size would have to accommodate a coolant. Otherwise, it would heat up and not be able to use as much stellar energy.

For his part, Loeb said, “It’s worth putting ideas out there and letting the data be the judge.” The data and the rest of the research have been accepted for publication by the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The explanation has been regarded as informed speculation by some individuals in the academe. Roger Romani, professor of physics at Stanford University, opined that he was not yet ready to dismiss more prosaic astrophysical origins and that one must retain appropriate skepticism.

Harnessing the Power of Light

Avi Loeb is also chairperson of the Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee. Starshot is the name of the project of the philanthropic research group Breakthrough Initiatives. It seeks to build a nanocraft capable of reaching Alpha Centauri in the next 20 years.

The nanocraft is a minuscule spacecraft that would carry a camera, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation and communication equipment and nuclear power supply. It would be powered by a laser array system capable of producing 100Gigawatts (GW) of energy. The sail of the nanocraft will be propelled by powerful laser beams so that it would have to be made from the strongest materials.

The project is funded by Billionaire Yuri Milner and backed by famed physicist Stephen Hawking. Coincidentally, the concept of Starshot is not unlike aliens causing light bursts to propel interstellar spacecraft.

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