Scientists have detected a “strange and persistent” radio signal that sounds like a heartbeat in a distant galaxy
Scientists have discovered a “strange and persistent” radio signal from a far-off galaxy that sounded like a heartbeat. Astronomers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere detected the signal, which is classified as a fast radio burst, or FRB — but lasted much longer.
A typical FRB, which is a strong burst of radio waves, lasts a few milliseconds. The new signal lasted up to three seconds – about 1,000 times longer than average, according to a news release. The astrophysical origins of FRBs are unknown.
The signal repeated over .02 seconds in a clear pattern, almost like a heartbeat.
“It was unusual,” said Daniele Michilli, a postdoc in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “Not only was it very long, lasting about three seconds, but there were periodic peaks that were remarkably precise, emitting every fraction of a second — boom, boom, boom — like a heartbeat. This is the first time the signal itself is periodic.”
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