Fast Radio Bursts: New Findings Shed Doubt On Current Theories Of Origins

By Tyler MacDonald | Feb 29, 2016 02:00 PM EST

Last week, scientists revealed that they had discovered the source of a fast radio burst (FRB) for the first time ever, as previously reported by HNGN. The FRB in question was said to have originated in a galaxy 6 billion light-years away and resulted from the collision of two neutron stars.

Now, a new team has shed doubt on these results after they identified "a fading radio afterglow" that overlapped with the galaxy previously believed to be the source of the FRB, according to National Geographic. The team claims that the fading glow is likely the remnant of the actual galaxy that crated the FRB, which happened to overlap with the galaxy reported in the initial study.

Gregg Hallinan of Caltech believes that this is certainly possible and the initial results were never definitive - many events in the sky create radio waves to varying degrees and the nature of these sources and the frequency of their variations are unclear, making it hard to determine the association between an "afterglow" and an FRB.

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"The most important first step is to check whether the radio afterglow has faded away," Hallinan told National Geographic. "If it is associated with a short gamma-ray burst [the same event that produced the FRB], it will definitely have faded."

In another theory, further analysis of the FRB points to the signal as the result of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) activity, also pointing to the emission and host galaxy that the FRB was proposed to be located in as completely unrelated, ROOM Space Journal reports.

Still, the initial findings have already made their mark through various researchers in the field including Jill Tarter, co-founder of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, who believes that FRBs may be signs of alien life, according to The Marshalltown.

"[If] they know which planets are life-bearing in the galaxy ... they could perhaps decide to eliminate these inhabited planets one after another, sequentially, which would provide a signal that showed up once or maybe twice and then didn't show up again for some totally unknown period," she said.

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