ALIEN hunters are on high alert after a group of astronomers detected 15 strange signals coming from a small cluster of stars.
Researchers working on Breakthrough Listen – a major project which is scanning the stars in search of intelligent life – announced that they have detected the powerful radio bursts coming from a dwarf galaxy three billion light years away.
The strange and rare signals are what is known as ‘fast radio bursts’ or FRBs but scientists are still unsure what causes them.
However, what they do know is that they can emit as much energy in a second than the sun does in 10,000 years.
They are exceptionally difficult to study as they can last as little as a millisecond and there is no way to predict when they are coming.
Since the first one was detected in 2007, there has been just a couple dozen more.
Some predict they are natural, such as exploding stars, while other scientists believe that they are extra-terrestrial signals which were intentionally sent Earth’s way.
The latest signals, dubbed FRB 121102, however, have been detected 15 times, which essentially rules out the possibility of a supernova or other natural occurrences.
Breakthrough Listen wrote in a statement: “Attempts to understand the mechanism that generates FRBs have made this galaxy a target of ongoing monitoring campaigns by instruments across the globe.
“Possible explanations for FRBs range from outbursts from rotating neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields, to more speculative ideas that they are directed energy sources used by extraterrestrial civilisations to power spacecraft.”
However, if the bursts are of alien origin, the likelihood of the beings that sent them still being alive are virtually nil, due to the sheer distance between Earth and the star cluster.
The statement continued: “When the recently-detected pulses left their host galaxy our entire Solar System was just two billion years old.
“Life on Earth consisted of only single-celled organisms, and it would be another billion years before even the simplest multicellular life began to evolve.”
Nonetheless, the researchers say the new signals give them a better understanding of the mysterious FRBs.
Breakthrough Listen postdoctoral researcher Vishal Gajjar said: “As well as confirming that the source is in a new active state, the high resolution of the data obtained by the Listen instrument will allow measurement of the properties of these mysterious bursts at a higher precision than ever possible before.”