Astronomers studying a recurring series of 'fast radio bursts' detected from space have managed to determine the origin of the mysterious pulses for the first time.
The fleeting phenomena have vexed scientists since they were discovered in 2001 and the enigma became all the more puzzling when the discovery of a repeating FRBs last year upended previous theories about the bursts.
The recurring pulses led to speculation that perhaps the bursts were some kind of alien signal akin to what humans may send out into space in homes of reaching intelligent life.
Fortunately the newfound predictability of these particular FRBs allowed astronomers to focus in on the phenomenon and it appears to have led to a breakthrough in understanding the bursts.
According to a paper published this week, the FRBs are coming from a dwarf galaxy that sits an astounding 3 billion light years from Earth!
By narrowing down where the bursts have been coming from, astronomers believe they will be able to eventually determine the process by which they are created, especially if the events continue to repeat and additional observations can be made.
Similar dwarf galaxies are known for their volatile activity, suggesting that the events are caused by some celestial upheaval, although why these specific FRBs are repeating remains a mystery.
So while the ET possibility has not entirely been ruled out, the natural explanation looks to be the most likely scenario.
And that may ultimately be for the best, because trying to have a conversation with aliens living over 3 billion light years away would probably turn out to be pretty maddening if not impossible.
Source: Popular Mechanics