Alien messages? AI breakthrough as HUNDREDS of deep space bursts discovered | Science | News

Researchers working on Breakthrough Listen – a major project which is scanning the stars in search of intelligent life – has said new software has helped astronomers scan through data to find a previously-hidden 72 bursts.

The original data came from 2017, when astronomers thought they had found 21 signals when combing through 400 terabytes of data.

However, the AI has gone back through the data and found 72 more originating from a galaxy more than three billion light years from Earth.

The mysterious and rare signals are what is known as ‘fast radio bursts’ or FRBs but scientists are still unsure what causes them.

However, the experts know these bursts can emit as much energy in a second than the sun does in 10,000 years.

They are exceptionally difficult to study as they can last as little as a millisecond and there is no way to predict when they are coming.

Some experts says they are natural, such as exploding stars, while other scientists believe that they are extra-terrestrial signals which were intentionally sent Earth’s way.

University of California Berkeley PhD student Gerry Zhang, who created the AI that searched for signals, said: “This work is only the beginning of using these powerful methods to find radio transients.

“We hope our success may inspire other serious endeavours in applying machine learning to radio astronomy.”

Berkeley SETI Research Center Director and Breakthrough Listen Principal Investigator Dr Andrew Siemion added: “Gerry’s work is exciting not just because it helps us understand the dynamic behaviour of FRBs in more detail.

“But also because of the promise it shows for using machine learning to detect signals missed by classical algorithms.”

A statement from Breakthrough Listen read: “Whether or not FRBs themselves eventually turn out to be signatures of extraterrestrial technology, Breakthrough Listen is helping to push the frontiers of a new and rapidly growing area of our understanding of the Universe around us.”

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