Astronomers Home In on Source of Strange Radio Burst
The discovery could help illuminate the structure of the universe—but other experts are not so sure we know the true origin of the blast.
An enigmatic, powerful burst of radio waves coming from far, far away is helping astronomers map the cosmos—while simultaneously adding to the mystery of these peculiar phenomena.
Known as fast radio bursts, fewer than two dozen of these brilliant flashes have been captured by telescopes on Earth. No two bursts are exactly the same, but for a few fractions of a second, they all blaze with seemingly intense amounts of energy. So far, these brief flashes of radio light remain mostly unexplained, with possible sources ranging from evaporating black holes to alien communication.
While aliens are an unlikely explanation (sorry), astronomers still don’t know what kind of astrophysical motor is churning away in the cosmos and sporadically erupting.