Can radio signals sent by super-advanced alien civilisations zillions of miles away in space be heard on Earth?
That’s the tantalising possibility raised by a series of mysterious, ultra-short repeating radio energy bursts from deep space that were reported last week.
In the respected journal Nature, astronomers revealed how their super-powerful new radio telescope detected 13 fast radio bursts (FRBs) — millisecond-long pulses of radio waves — originating from outside our galaxy.
These might easily be dismissed as the products of random blasts of energy from far-off astronomical phenomena, such as black holes or stars colliding.
But one factor suggests otherwise. The signal was repeating itself — so it doesn’t appear to have been created at random.
So, could it instead, the Canadian astronomers wondered, be the work of an alien civilisation producing super-powerful radio signals?
The first radio burst heard by Man was in 2007. Since then, at least 60 others have been detected. But only one, before this new one last summer, had been heard repeating, which was in 2017.
Excitingly for those looking for evidence of life elsewhere in the galaxy, the radio-telescope scientists at the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (Chime), in British Columbia, report that the signal they heard bore striking similarities to that first repeating one in 2017.