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The mysterious phenomena were first noticed in 2007 when the ‘Lorimer burst’ was discovered in archived data from 2001. Since then, more than a dozen fast radio bursts (FRBs) have been detected in telescope data.
The blasts last for just a few milliseconds, occurring as one-off events with just a single burst recorded from a single location. They can emit as much power as 500 million suns.
There’s still no generally accepted explanation for the strange astrophysical phenomena. One theory is that they are caused by the collision of very dense objects such as merging black holes or neutron stars.
A recent study even went as far as proposing that they might be coming from giant planet-sized transmitters in galaxies billions of light-years away. In that case the researchers speculated that could be used for powering ‘solar sails’ on a colossal alien spacecraft.