Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online


New radio telescope picks up unexplained space signals


February 2019

CHIME telescope

There is an awful lot of space out there. It can be impossible to get our head around any of it really...the different universes, the emptiness, the sheer distances and the time scales.

Already the scientists reckon there are at least 500 billion billion suns out there...but without any knowledge of an end to space, that could be the tip of an iceberg.

So for many of us, it hasn’t come as a surprise that astronomers at the University of British Columbia in Canada say they have detected some mysterious radio signals coming from deep space.

It was only last year that the university’s new CHIME observatory, located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, came into operation. CHIME stands for Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment and consists of four 100-metre-long semi cylindrical antennas which scan the entire northern sky every day.

The signals picked up by the new telescopes consisted of FRBs or fast radio bursts. There were 13 FRBs all coming from the same source about 2.5 billion light years away, and they came in a very unusual repeating signal.

The pulses, with fast extremely low frequencies, suggest that the blast was extremely bright and originated from an insanely powerful source somewhere in the cosmos.

Patrick Boyle, a project manager at CHIME, says the strange new signatures picked up by the radio telescope occurred during both day and night, and did not correlate with any known on-site activities or other known sources.

The Canadian experience backs up reports from other unconnected astronomers and astrophysicists about FRBs coming from deep in space. An FRB event similar to the latest Canadian one has been reported through a different telescope, and along with these two repeating signals, about 60 single fast radio bursts have also been detected by scientists in different locations.

While the precise nature and origin of the blasts of radio waves is unknown, the University of Columbia’s astrophysicist Ingrid Stairs said that the latest incident suggests there could be more out there.

"With more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles - where they're from and what causes them," she said.

Avi Loeb, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astro Physics, said that an artificial origin or extra terrestrial intelligence for these signals was worth considering. Other possible causes could be supernovas, supermassive black holes, or even the merging of two neutron stars which were spinning very rapidly and had strong magnetic fields.

No one knows.

But thanks to amazing new equipment such as the new CHIME radio telescope, we are beginning to edge forward on our understanding of space. Whether that will eventually introduce us to extra terrestrial intelligence, in whatever form it might take, remains to be seen.

There is a lot on CHINE including a news page at

Back to LaterLife Interest Index

Bookmark This Share on Facebook Receive more like this

Latest Articles:

Get in the flow with Tai Chi

man and woman doing tai chi

Did anyone out there hear of Tai Chi in the 1960s or 1970s? It was really only in the 1990s that this eastern form of martial art really started to take off globally. Now Tai Chi is practiced by an estimated 240 million people worldwide, including thousands here in the UK, and is said to be of enormous benefit especially to older people.




Welsh pubs with serious cwtch appeal

Ty Coch Inn, Porthdinllaen, Llŷn Peninsula by @enlliann (Instagram)

If there’s one thing Wales does well, it’s pubs. We may well be regarded as the land of song, but we can certainly sink a few pints too. Join in with the locals and enjoy a drink or two at one of these breathtaking Welsh pubs. Iechyd da! (or cheers if you like…)


What motto would you put on your Coat of Arms?

Coat of arms

Arms and crests are granted by a senior herald, one of the Kings of Arms, and actually anyone can apply for one.


Win great prizes in our current Competitions

Silver Travel Glynis Alfa

Click here to visit the competitions page.

Article Archive

The LaterLife Article Archive provides a comprehensive list of links, to all the current regular article series' as well as quick links to older articles.
Back to LaterLife Today

Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site


Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti