Yet another deep space radio burst mystifies the world’s astronomers

15 May 2017

Image: kesterhu/Shutterstock

Astronomers have been left puzzled yet again after the discovery of another radio burst in space, with its origin remaining a complete mystery.

While previous mysteries of the universe such as gravitational waves have recently become unlocked, some things in space continue to bewilder the world’s astronomers.

One such phenomenon is the recent recordings of fast radio bursts (FRBs), which manifest as extremely short blasts of strong radio waves coming from deep space.

The problem is, despite the recording of dozens of FRBs to date, the cause behind them remains completely unknown.

Now, once again, an FRB – dubbed FRB 150215 – has been recorded by researchers working with the Parkes telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

However, this FRB is remarkable as the Australian team was the only one to record it; several other teams across the globe began hunting in the same region of space afterwards and found nothing.

This means that its cause or origin remains a complete mystery, making it the 22nd FRB detected without an identifiable source.

Burst takes an interesting path

Adding another layer to the mystery, follow-up analysis of the recorded data found that the FRB had taken an interesting path – described as a ‘hole of sorts’ – through the Milky Way towards us.

While extraterrestrial communication is often cited as a possible answer to the origin of FRBs, other more likely theories suggest that supernovas could be behind the appearances.

According to, astronomers may not be able to detect the origin due to analysis of the wrong thing, as the FRBs could occur a considerable amount of time after the trigger event. This would suggest that astronomers should first look at supernovas in the hope that FRBs could be detected afterwards.

Despite these mysteries, our understanding of FRBs is increasing with each passing study, as last month confirmed that they originated in deep space, and not as the result of frequency pollution from Earth.

The latest FRB research has been published to the online journal arXiv.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic