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Fast Radio Bursts: Signature of Distant Technology?

13 Mar 2017, 15:52 UTC
Fast Radio Bursts: Signature of Distant Technology?
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We have a lot to learn about Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), a reminder that the first of these, the so-called Lorimer Burst (FRB 010724) was detected only a decade ago. Since then we’ve found 16 others, all thought to be at cosmological distances. The 2015 detection of FRB 150418, at first thought to have left an afterglow, has now been traced to an active galactic nucleus powered by a supermassive black hole. FRB 121102 appears to be a rare case of a repeating FRB (about which more a bit later). The distances involved and the brightness of the FRBs have led to source hypotheses ranging from gamma ray bursts to massive neutron stars.

But as Avi Loeb (Harvard University) speculates in a new paper slated to appear in Astrophysical Journal Letters, we could conceivably be dealing with an engineering phenomenon rather than a natural one. What Loeb and Manasvi Lingam, a Harvard postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s School of Engineering, discuss is whether FRBs could be interpreted as artificial beams set up as an infrastructure for pushing lightsails.
Analyzing the distance of the beam sources through their dispersion measures — the delay of radio frequencies as they sweep through charged particles ...

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