Multiple short bursts of radio waves have been found coming from a single location far beyond the Milky Way Galaxy, Cornell astronomers have discovered. It’s the first time researchers have found these enigmatic “fast radio bursts” to repeat, indicating that the waves are coming from a powerful source located many light years away. Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, have long been a mystery for astronomers. Only 17 have ever been found, and they usually appear as isolated events —€” flashes of radio waves in the sky that only last for milliseconds at a time.

Scientists had theorized that the flashes were caused by events as exotic as the smashing together of neutron stars, but Cornell’s discovery indicates that whatever produces the burst isn’t destroyed in the process. Shami Chatterjee, a senior researcher at Cornell, said that the FRB in question in the paper did not have an explosive origin. “So, either there’s an odd coincidence,” Chatterjee said, “or maybe there are different types of FRBs. Either way, it seems we’ve broken this enigmatic phenomenon wide open.” READ MORE