Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts Detected Outside Milky Way Galaxy

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Scientists want to know what is causing a mysterious, rapid burst of radio waves that appear to be coming from a source located beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

What makes these waves so special is the fact they appear to be repeating, scientists said. Fast radio bursts are uncommon -- just 17 have been detected by scientists in the past eight years -- and they're often viewed as isolated events, according to researchers at Cornell University.

Understanding these bursts can help scientists learn more about the origins of the universe. The particular fast radio bursts in this study lasted 10 milliseconds and were found in archived Cornell data. The bursts were observed from the enormous Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico.

Astronomers from Cornell published a paper last week in "Nature" regarding the 17th discovered FRB. Noting an afterglow, researchers argued in the paper this particular FRB cannot have an explosive origin.

The latest discoveries upend previous theories that the fast radio bursts were the result of explosive events, such as the smashing together of neutron stars.

Shami Chatterjee, a senior researcher at Cornell, said the perplexing fast radio burst didn't have an explosive origin.

"So, either there's an odd coincidence, or maybe there are different types of FRBs," Chatterjee said. "Either way, it seems we've broken this enigmatic phenomenon wide open."