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Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the fireworks-duh dept.

Space 259

astroengine writes "Astronomers were on a celestial fishing expedition for pulsing neutron stars and other radio bursts when they found something unexpected in archived sky sweeps conducted by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The powerful signal, which lasted for just milliseconds, could have been a fluke, but then the team found three more equally energetic transient flashes all far removed from the galactic plane and coming from different points in the sky. Astronomers are at a loss to explain what these flashes are — they could be a common astrophysical phenomenon that has only just been detected as our radio antennae have become sensitive enough, or they could be very rare and totally new phenomenon that, so far, defies explanation."

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259 comments

Its a conspiracy. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190049)

By the govermnemt to spy on its users.

First post (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#44190051)

And perhaps the last when the alien invasion force, of which we observed the launch, reaches earth.

Re:First post (4, Funny)

auric_dude (610172) | about 10 months ago | (#44190081)

"Good morning. Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences any more. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it's fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live, to existand should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, 'We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on, we're going to survive.' Today we celebrate our independence day!" President Thomas Whitmore July 4th, 1996

Re:First post (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#44190131)

"Oh, and you aliens. Your browsers have a back door for which we discovered a zero day exploit. You should have given the adoption of IE some careful thought."

Re:First post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190145)

I thought it was Clinton fault if the aliens invaded ?

Re:First post (3, Funny)

turgid (580780) | about 10 months ago | (#44190175)

Yes, those pinko-commie left-wing nutjob foreigner-appeasing presidents are alien magnets! And they're in league with the 12-foot shape-shifting blood-drinking lizards who are from Zeta Reticuli and controlled by Phil the Greek from the panel behind Liz's throne.

Re:First post (2)

auric_dude (610172) | about 10 months ago | (#44190267)

I'd back Ellen Ripley against an alien any day.

Re:First post (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190333)

And perhaps the last when the alien invasion force, of which we observed the launch, reaches earth.

I doubt I am the only one who hopes the above is actually true.

Re:First post (1, Redundant)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about 10 months ago | (#44190639)

Dude, it's Independence Day, no worries, as long as Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are still alive.

War! (5, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#44190055)

    The intergalactic war is getting closer. We can hear the explosions now. It's only a matter of time before they get here. It's a good thing our space program has done so well, and we've started colonizing other planets, otherwise our species would be lost forever.

    Oh .. fuck .. We don't have a space program, only a high altitude orbital flight program. Well, it's been nice knowing you all.

Re:War! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 10 months ago | (#44190195)

Until we can actually leave the solar system if not the entire galaxy (physics not withstanding), perhaps it would be best to keep a low profile; as in don't announce our presence. If aliens can reach Earth, it would be easy for them to track down other colonies nearby and commence with the extermination.

Re:War! (0)

emilper (826945) | about 10 months ago | (#44190235)

why would they bother with Earth ? Deep gravity well, close to the sun and plagued with solar flares, full of microbes ... Pluto with all the frozen gases or the asteroid belt would be much more appealing.

Re:War! (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 months ago | (#44190359)

why would they bother with Earth ? Deep gravity well, close to the sun and plagued with solar flares, full of microbes ...

'Cause free-range brains taste better.

Re:War! (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44190419)

why would they bother with Earth ? Deep gravity well, close to the sun and plagued with solar flares, full of microbes ... Pluto with all the frozen gases or the asteroid belt would be much more appealing.

On what planet would you expect to be free of all of those?

Re:War! (5, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#44190421)

Humans make a great slave labor force. Well, the ones that aren't served. [youtube.com]

Where else in this part of the galaxy can you pick up 7.1 billion slaves, who will willingly work for slips of paper representing the idea of an exchange for goods and services? That, and they reproduce so readily, culling 50% of the population, their numbers will return in just a couple decades.

There's so many of them, you could have them build monuments to your memory. You can have them stack stones [wikipedia.org]. You could even have them do it in the desert, and they'll not only do it, but they'll admire them as one of their greatest feats. [wikipedia.org]

Is the trip too long? You could pick up just a seed population of say 1000, and end up with millions of obedient subjects when you deliver them. Nothing is better than a cargo that grows during shipment.

The trick to their obedience is to tell them that they have free will, but make them worship and obey you under threat of perpetual torment. Most of those fools will believe anything. Just watch out for the atheists. They'll see right through most of those scams, and try to take over your ship. Make up something about an occupying evil, and the brainwashed masses will turn against them.

Re:War! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190495)

Once you can travel interstellar distances, its quite likely you wont have too much use of humans of now. If they are a race willing to enslave other creatures they find lesser than them, then just like humans they will have enslaved a bunch of their own population.

Re:War! (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#44191087)

Indeed; if there is other more intelligent life out there that has achieved "interstellar travel" (if this even means anything significant to them), they likely aren't carbon-based homonids with a penchant for enslavement of weaker physical beings.

Hey... for all we know, we're (as a planet or possibly solar system or galaxy) already the equivalent to a gut bacterium to some other higher conscious being out there....

Re:War! (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 10 months ago | (#44191109)

Once you can get any information from any nearly computer on the planet, you won't have too much use for using a magnifying glass to pop ants. Yet some kids still do. Some adults still do. Some aliens might find it the height of Graschnarblethhpp to enslave a pre-singularity society and make them build monuments in the desert. It really gets the breeding age female-type-2 aliens amorous.

Re:War! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44191199)

yes, because atheists will save the day. Stalin.

Re:War! (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#44190485)

Too late. We've been broadcasting a wealth of signals out to them. At about 85 light years out, they'll be listening to Hiter's Nuremberg rallies. [bbc.co.uk] By the time they find out that we've even invented nuclear weapons, they'll be well on their way.

They may be concerned when they see we have achieved space travel. Their concern will drop as they watch our space programs dissolve into obscurity.

Having colonies out there is a better chance that not having them at all. They may only be interested in the easy farming of over 7 billion humans (or as they'd say 7 billion delicious servings of human), and less interested in the thousands on other worlds. And there's a chance for those colonists to move elsewhere or defend themselves, once they see the broadcasts of an invasion of Earth.

I would hope any colonization ship would have the ability to continue moving, in case the new home planet were found to be unsuitable.

Re:War! (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 10 months ago | (#44190823)

Aliens don't speak German. Haven't you seen Star Trek or Dr Who?

Re:War! (1)

brickmack (2537604) | about 10 months ago | (#44191375)

Huh? Star Trek and Doctor Who are bad examples. In Star Trek (though im not sure of any episodes when German was spoken) they have universal translators. In Doctor Who most species have something similar (TARDIS translation matrix for time lords), and in one episode a Dalek was shown speaking German using whatever their equivalent is.

FFS. When is this idiotic myth going to die? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44191359)

Too late. We've been broadcasting a wealth of signals out to them. At about 85 light years out, they'll be listening to Hiter's Nuremberg rallies. [bbc.co.uk]

Seriously. Learn about the inverse-square law.

Here, let me help you:

Inverse-square law [wikipedia.org].

You're welcome.

Re:War! (4, Insightful)

RubberDogBone (851604) | about 10 months ago | (#44191443)

There are generally two reasons anything would want to attack Earth: 1) we're a threat. 2) we have resources not more easily obtained elsewhere

For the first point, we are a threat to nothing and noone. Our weapons are simple and not very powerful. They are also very short-ranged and we are tremendously preoccupied with killing each other. We're not externally dangerous and unlikely to become so any time soon. We have no ability to wage war in space, much less across any sort of stellar distances. We possess exactly zero capability to use wormholes, warps, time travel, or other exotic ways to move the human initiative anywhere else.

For the second point, essentially all the elements and minerals found on Earth can also be found elsewhere, where there might not be so many humans in the way. What weapons we do have would make an invasion troublesome and needlessly complicated. Suppose aliens need water? No need to come all the way to Earth to invade when you can harvest a few Oort comets and you're done. Earth would never even notice and couldn't object even if it wanted to. But in practice, any advanced space-faring species would have probably figured out how to manufacture resources when needed, so they may have even less need to harvest anything.

A lot of scifi is bogged down with the concept of aliens needing something from Earth, but this concept is mostly not plausible. Water is everywhere. Minerals are everywhere. No, they don't even need to eat us. If you can cross space by whatever method, you have probably figured out food or evolved or engineered yourselves beyond the need to eat constantly like humans do.

Really, the only reasons to bother with Earth would be to obtain samples, to observe what's happening, or to manipulate the planet or it's contents (people, animals, resources) in some manner. The classic concepts of an invasion force and human extermination don't fit with either of those plans.

Re:War! (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 10 months ago | (#44190475)

Colonizing Mars to protect against interstellar war would be like having your safe house on your patio. As for colonizing other planets we haven't got the technology for that any more than you could go to the moon with a horse carriage, just adding more horses won't help. It would be interesting to get started but I except a Mars colony to be dependent on Earth for centuries.

Re:War! (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#44190663)

If we had continued working towards colonizing the moon and Mars, our technology would have grown better to meet those goals.

The horse carriage would have never grown into the horseless carriage, and finally the modern automobile, if we all lived together on a 2 square mile island. There's no reason to drive 150mph, if it would shorten your trip to under 1 minute.

If there were regular commuter flights from Earth to Mars, you can be sure we'd have improved. Look at the difference between a Model 14 Benoist [space.com] and the Concorde [wikipedia.org], Airbus A380 [wikipedia.org], or Boeing 787 [wikipedia.org].

The demand drives innovation. Over the last century, we redefined the demand from crossing a small body of water faster, to being able to fly around the world faster.

We want to get from Point A to Point B in something bigger, faster, and cheaper. The Concorde won on the faster, but died because it was anything but cheaper. That, unfortunately, is the fate of suborbital aircraft.

When we redefine Point A and Point B to be Earth to another planet, we'll find better ways to do it. When that is extended out to other stars, our technology will grow even more.

As you said, our space technology isn't much more than a horse in carriage. Without a goal and a reason to do it, it will never become a reality. We're all one planetary ELE away from being the last of our species. We didn't even know about the meteor that hit Russia, until it came down, damaging 7,200 buildings, and injuring almost 1,500 people. They're considered too small... Imagine the damage from a few of these, if they made impact on more populated areas. [wikipedia.org]

Re:War! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190507)

We could send in Michelle Bachman, maybe the aliens will recognize that we're way too stupid to be invaded.

Re:War! (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 10 months ago | (#44190601)

"Oh .. fuck .. We don't have a space program, only a high altitude orbital flight program. Well, it's been nice knowing you all."

Dolphins are still there, so not time to worry yet.

Re:War! (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#44190727)

It's a trick! They're the advance force, gathering intelligence on us. They've been reporting our advancement the whole time!

Re:War! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44191043)

What possible combination of technologies could even come close to moving 7 billion people, supposedly to Mars, and keep them alive indefinitely on a hostile dead rock?

Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190075)

The dark matter species have decidedto contact us.

Required (5, Funny)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 10 months ago | (#44190083)

"I for one welcome our new..."

Ah, nevermind.

Re:Required (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190361)

Charlie Sheen knows whats up cuz he gets down. Tiger blood is in Horse Toothed jackasses out. ~ #WINNNING!

Re:Required (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190375)

Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.

Ah, nevermind

barbq (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190091)

it is my bar-b-q it is highly modified and unique

it's like finding a wad of cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190105)

in the pocket of that suit you haven't worn since the wedding a few years ago

It's the mice (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 10 months ago | (#44190111)

Biting the cables. Each bust is one being electrocuted.

Re:It's the mice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190355)

They're not biting the cables. They're running the experiment.

Aliens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190115)

Aliens aliens aliens aliens aliens aliens!!!!!!

Chances of this being something are a million to 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190125)

But still they come.

Re:Chances of this being something are a million t (5, Informative)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 10 months ago | (#44190193)

um, the probability of this being something is 1. Now the probability of this being something interesting...

Re:Chances of this being something are a million t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190853)

WOOOOSH!!!!

Richard Burton is very disappointed in you!

Alien rebroadcasts of "I Love Lucy" (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 10 months ago | (#44190159)

They got our signals, and are sending them back so we do better next time.

Re:Alien rebroadcasts of "I Love Lucy" (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44190459)

Cute, but even assuming the power (which we don't have) to send radio that far, it would not have reached them yet, for another million years or so.

They came from widely separated place beyond our Galaxy.

Get your speakers out, everyone... (3, Funny)

sidthegeek (626567) | about 10 months ago | (#44190199)

It's time to start playing Indian Love Call.

Re:Get your speakers out, everyone... (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 10 months ago | (#44190309)

You bastard! I had blocked that out! I had completely forgotten about that horrible movie, and you brought it all back! I curse you and your progeny for a thousand generations!!!
Back to therapy for me.

Damn you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190217)

... Jedi... For The Empire!

Bleeping clowns (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190219)

From TFA:

What is known is that in just a few milliseconds, each of the signals released about as much energy as the sun emits in 300,000 years.

Stop with the aliens nonsense.

Re:Bleeping clowns (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 10 months ago | (#44190635)

"Stop with the aliens nonsense."

Well, an alien species that it's able to release in milliseconds what the sun in 300000 years is something to worry about, don't you think so?

Re:Bleeping clowns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44191149)

why would it? thinking about it pragmatically, what would such a powerful species want with us? It's like you or I looking at an ant hill for all of a 1/10th of a second before forgetting it.

Re:Bleeping clowns (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | about 10 months ago | (#44190687)

You were the first person to mention aliens.

Re:Bleeping clowns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44191147)

To think
a person, on line
can write
write, with the freedom of a bird
anything under the sun
and yet, they choose to write
a falsehood
a sad thought indeed.

Four bursts? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190225)

Quick! Triangulate where in space time that these four events wavefronts will arrive simultaneously..

And point all your telescopes there.

What? (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 10 months ago | (#44190239)

Okay just hold on a minute. FTA:

What is known is that in just a few milliseconds, each of the signals released about as much energy as the sun emits in 300,000 years.

That's a third of a million years worth of the energy output from the entire sun in milliseconds and no corresponding light flash or other radiation? Could the sources possibly be weaker and closer and we just got the maths wrong?

Re:What? (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 months ago | (#44190389)

That's a third of a million years worth of the energy output from the entire sun in milliseconds and no corresponding light flash or other radiation?

It will take the thunder a lot longer to get here.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190527)

The 300000 years of Solar energy calculation rests on the assumption that the burst is omnidirectional.

Re:What? (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 10 months ago | (#44190781)

And a wild assed guess as to distance. Not in the galactic plane, so I'm assuming they assumed it was intergalactic distance.

Re:What? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190541)

It was a million voices crying out then suddenly silenced.

Remember, this flash came from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190841)

Could be Transformers. The explosions in the movies made almost no sound.

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 10 months ago | (#44190969)

They determined that the origin is not in our galaxy, but it looks like they know nothing else about it.

Could it be red-shifted gamma ray bursts?

It's the Doctor's fault (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 10 months ago | (#44190241)

It's the TARDIS causing cracks in the space-time continuum.

Re:It's the Doctor's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190627)

not the Tardis... the RE-Tardis...

Powerful, but not complex (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#44190245)

That we use radio to send signals that shows our intelligence (or lack of it) don't mean that it only be produced artificially. Is the result of a natural process, maybe a supernova or pulsar. And whatever it was, we survived it, if were a i.e. close supernova the light and the rest of radiation should had come pretty close to the radio burst, 2 years ago.

Gravitational lensing (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 10 months ago | (#44190319)

Can explain it, there does not have to be anything at the apparent location.

Re:Gravitational lensing (1)

Gil-galad55 (707960) | about 10 months ago | (#44190413)

Gravitational lensing produces small (arcsecond) deviations. These things are only localized to arcminute scale, so graviational lensing is negligible.

Really data compression burst signals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190323)

Try decoding the signals by setting up receiving stations at a distance to analyze the reception time differential between the bursts in relation to the speed of light. The distance between the stations receiving the same burst will then yield the information necessary to translate the burst. Divide the distance by the speed of light and you will then learn the carrier wave length. The half wave will then yield the frequency. A short burst can then be interpolated to yield a longer message. Why sent full duration data when data can be compressed in time and corresponding velocity? Yes we receive the burst at C but the data and transmission speed is much faster.
The speed of light is not a "barrier" it is only a constant by which all solid matter is effected by energy waves at all velocities. Sorry Einstein there is much more to the universe than only what meets the eye at the speed of light constant.

Perhaps we should experiment with shaped nuclear charges reflecting signal waves to see if it is possible to send compressed data in outer space by energetic wave amplification. Just maybe with the right configurations, the wave length of a signal can be increased but the frequency and thus data will remain constant. Incredibly long energetic waves at high frequency must be traveling at speeds much greater than the speed of light, but might also only be perceived by single static receptors as short bursts, thus the need for multiple receptors at astronomic distances to translate the wave lengths of the bursts.

The Society for the Preservation of Anonymous Coward Mad Geniuses

i'm sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190335)

i had my hi beams on.......
OH just cause i was parked in orbit around your planet .....

Hey Thetans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190381)

Hey Thetans,
My name is Ron, and I want to audit every single one of you. All of you are covered in body thetans.
You spend every second of your day looking at stupid as pictures because of engrams. You are everything
wog in this world. Honestly, have any of ever gotten any cause over MEST? I mean, I guess it's
fun being a pre-clear sometimes, but you all take to a whole new level. This is even worse than being PTS.

Don't be a stranger. Just visit one of my orgs for a free personality test or buy Dianetics: The Modern Science
of Mental Health. I'm pretty much perfect. I was the youngest Eagle Scout and one of the first pilots. What firsts have
you achieved, other than "first post?" I also was an instrumental part of the Manhattan Project and developed the first
uniformly workable technology of the mind (Shit has made me SO much cash). You are all wogs who are in serious need of Dianetic auditing.

PiC Related: It's me and my boat

Thats God Farting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190415)

FInally, proof that God exists!

It's obviously Snowden.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190423)

he's trying to call his friends back in the US, and reroutes the call over a node in the pegasus galaxy...

Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190429)

That is the blast of Alderaan death, in a galaxy far far away.

Re:Obviously (1)

mellon (7048) | about 10 months ago | (#44190603)

A blast of energy that bright at close range would have vaporized the death star. Otherwise your theory is sound.

Contact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190543)

...Ellie's father has summoned us!

wow! signal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190581)

How does this signal compare to the WOW signal?

radio bursts warn about earth's coming destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44190837)

VOGON CAPTAIN:
[On Speakers] People of Earth your attention please. This is Prostectic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planet Council. As you no doubt will be aware, the plans for the development of the outlying regions of the western spiral arm of the galaxy require the building of a hyperspace express route through your star system and, regrettably, your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes thank you very much.

MANKIND:
[Yells of protest]

VOGON CAPTAIN:
There's no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaints and its far too late to start making a fuss about it now.

MANKIND:
[Louder yells of protest]

VOGON CAPTAIN:
What do you mean you've never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh for heaven sake mankind it's only four light years away you know! I'm sorry but if you can't be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that's your own regard. Energise the demolition beams! God I don't knowapathetic bloody planet, I've no sympathy at all

Scene 7: Ext. Space.
The Earth is destroyed in a huge explosion.

Source: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

And todays random unit of measurement is.... (3, Funny)

Thiarna (111890) | about 10 months ago | (#44191053)

Mosquitoes.

They have come such a long way that by the time they reach the Earth, the Parkes telescope would have to operate for 1 million years to collect enough to have the equivalent energy of a flying mosquito

Alcubierre drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44191379)

It's deceleration flashes from Alcubierre drives going from supra luminal to subluminal speed. The great news is that it means the drive is possible. The bad news is that anyone comin to visit us could erase us simply by stopping too close to the solar system.

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