Scientists have detected a repeating radio signal from deep space that follows a 16-day pattern.
Researchers are trying to decipher the origins of the signals. Details of their findings were recently released in the journal arXiv as they await full peer review.
While previous radio signals have been detected from space, this is the first time scientists have noticed a pattern from bursts that originate from a single source.
The team behind the discovery believe the signal originates from a massive spiral galaxy over half a billion light-years away from Earth.
The bursts were discovered by a team of scientists with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment/Fast Radio Burst Project collaboration between Sept. 16, 2019 and Oct. 30, 2019.
A pattern emerges
Researchers detected the signal every 16.35 days. Over four days, there would be a burst every two hours, and then it would go silent for 12 days.
The signal is a known fast radio burst labeled FRB 180916.J0158+65. Scientists behind the research hope the discovery of its 16-day pattern will help reveal more about the cause of the bursts.
An early theory from another set of researchers working off their findings posits that the signal comes from the orbital motion of a companion star or object. Either way, it's probably not aliens.
"I’m not reaching out to E.T. at this point in time," says Paul Delaney, professor of physics and astronomy at York University in Toronto, in the video above.
For now, the theories are speculative, but even that can be useful. Researchers across the globe believe studying more of these signals will help grow the scientific community's understanding of how matter is distributed across the universe.