A TEAM of Australian scientists have made a discovery that would impress the likes of Mulder and Scully.
The scientists from Swinburne University in Melbourne achieved a world first when they managed to capture alien radio signals tearing through space in real time.
While there have been nine recorded findings of fast radio bursts since they were first discovered in 2007, all of those instances were found in existing data.
Lead researcher Emily Petroff said the groundbreaking discovery brings astronomers a step closer to understanding the strange cosmic phenomenon that has scientists baffled.
“Fast radio bursts only last as long as it takes a human to blink their eye. That is what makes this discovery so exciting,” she said.
“Because we were able to catch the act, as opposed to existing data sets, we were able to reveal that the radiation produced by FRB was more than 20 per cent circularly polarised and this suggests there were strong magnetic fields near the source.”
The circular shape of the waves recorded was clearly foreign — radio bursts from Earth are usually one plane, and these were two.
Ms Petroff said the origin of the source remained a mystery, but the researchers believed it had to be huge, cataclysmic and up to 5.5 billion light years away.
“There are two competing models to explain the phenomenon,” she said.
“One suggests it is caused by the collapse or explosion of a star in other another galaxy, while the other suggests it comes from some sort of energy flaring from a neutron star.
“However, both of these could be incorrect and it could be something entirely different.”
Ms Petroff said the observation was made by the Parkes Telescope — a 64m diameter parabolic dish used for radio astronomy in New South Wales.
“For the project we had the telescope pointed at the location where one of the previous bursts from the data sets was recorded,” she said.
“It’s so exciting to know a similar occurrence has happened in the proximity of the first.
“After we recorded it, the project team pointed 12 other telescopes from around the globe to the exact spot where the event took place, but none of these saw any afterglow.”