UFO Buster Radio News – 326: Near FRB Discovered, SpaceX Shat In Space Again, and UK Astronaut Says Aliens Exist
For more than a decade, astronomers across the globe have wrestled with the perplexities of fast radio bursts—intense, unexplained cosmic flashes of energy, light years away, that pop for mere milliseconds.
Despite the hundreds of records of these enigmatic sources, researchers have only pinpointed the precise location of four such bursts.
Now there’s a fifth, detected by a team of international scientists that includes West Virginia University researchers. The finding, which relied on eight telescopes spanning locations from the United Kingdom to China, was published Monday (Jan. 6) in Nature.
There are two primary types of fast radio bursts, explained Kshitij Aggarwal, a physics graduate student at WVU and a co-author of the paper: repeaters, which flash multiple times, and non-repeaters, one-off events. This observation marks only the second time scientists have determined the location of a repeating fast radio burst.
But the localization of this burst is not quite as important as the type of galaxy it was found in, which is similar to our own, said Sarah Burke-Spolaor, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and co-author.
“Identifying the host galaxy for FRBs is critical to tell us about what kind of environments FRBs live in, and thus what might actually be producing FRBs,” Burke-Spolaor said. “This is a question for which scientists are still grasping at straws.”
“What’s very interesting about this particular repeating FRB is that it is in the arm of a Milky Way-like spiral galaxy, and is the closest to Earth thus far localized,” Bandura said. “The unique proximity and repetition of this FRB might allow for observation in other wavelengths and the potential for more detailed study to understand the nature of this type of FRB.”
“That encouraged a lot of publications saying that repeating FRBs are likely produced by magnetars (neutron stars with powerful magnetic fields),” she said. “While that is still possible, the fact that this FRB breaks the uniqueness of that previous mold means that we have to consider perhaps multiple origins or a broader range of theories to understand what creates FRBs.”
At half-a-billion light years from Earth, the source of this burst, named “FRB 180916,” is seven times closer than the only other repeating burst to have been localized, and more than 10 times closer than any of the few non-repeating bursts scientists have managed to pinpoint.
First British astronaut Helen Sharman says ‘aliens exist’
Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut, said she believes in extraterrestrial life in an interview with The Guardian published Sunday.
“Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it,” Sharman told the newspaper.
“There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of different forms of life,” she said. “Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not.”
Sharman became the first Briton in space when she spent eight days as a researcher on the Soviet space station Mir in 1991. She was 27 at the time, making her one of the youngest astronauts in history.
“It’s possible [aliens are] here right now and we simply can’t see them,” she added.
In the same interview, Sharman discussed her experience of looking at the Earth from space, saying there’s “no greater beauty.”
SpaceX Will Launch 60 Starlink Satellites into Orbit Tonight. Here’s How to Watch It Live.
The private spaceflight company SpaceX will launch 60 new Starlink internet satellites to join its growing megaconstellation in orbit today (Jan. 6), and you can watch it live online. The goal of SpaceX’s Starlink project is to provide constant high-speed internet access to users around the world through a massive constellation of broadband internet satellites operating in low-Earth orbit. Users on the ground would then only need a small terminal, no bigger than a laptop to gain internet access.
“Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” the company wrote in its Starlink mission description.
The majority of SpaceX’s missions in 2020 will consist of Starlink launches as the company works to expand its fleet of internet-beaming satellites, including at least one more batch of 60 Starlink satellites scheduled to launch before the end of January. SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has said the company will need at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit to offer “minor” broadband coverage, and at least 800 to provide “moderate” coverage.
SpaceX plans to operate its initial batch of 1,584 satellites 341 miles (549 kilometers) above the Earth, hovering much lower than traditional communications satellites that operate out of geostationary orbit.
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