MYSTERY RADIO SIGNAL picked up from BEYOND our GALAXY

The Australian Parkes radiotelescope – even though under threat from budget cuts – has produced its first chunk of science for 2015, and it's a substantial one indeed. The mighty Antipodean instrument has given astronomers their only real-time view so far of the unexplained phenomenon known as the Fast Radio Burst (FRB). FRBs …

1. Space is big, my brain just ain't

" it put out energy equivalent to the Sun's daily output in a few milliseconds" I can't even begin to pretend to grasp this sort of number. Perhaps if it were stated in El Reg standard units?

1. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

That's a tough one because El Reg doesn't have a standard unit for energy, but it does have a unit for mass. The font of all (dis)information Wikipedia says the energy output of the sun is 9.192×1010 megatons of TNT per second, which is 7941888000000000 megatons of TNT per day, which is 7941888000000000000000 tons of TNT per day, which is... drumroll please...

the energy of 1.89e+24 Jubs of TNT exploding, in just a few milliseconds!

I think we can all agree that is more Jubs than anyone can safely handle in one go (no matter how much you might want to).

1. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

That's a tough one because El Reg doesn't have a standard unit for energy,

It clearly needs one.

1 Joule is 1 Nm, which in Reg units would be 0.0174 Norris linguini (Nolg) (although I have a hard time imagining Chuck with a plate of pasta).

Thinking of some useful Reg-related activity which requires energy, we can see that a pint of beer weighs around 568g (assuming it's mostly water) and a check with the one-off sample of a beer glass I have to hand suggests around 400g for the glass, so lets take a round 1kg for a full pint glass.

Lifting it approx 50cm from table to mouth would require approx 5 joules of energy, so I propose to name that one Quaff. This gives us:

1 Qu = 5J = 0.087 Nolg

Getting back to the original question, the Wikipedia article quotes the Sun as pumping out 384.6 yotta watts (3.846 e+26 W), which is 3.32 e+31 Joules per day, some 6.64 e+30 Quaffs, or 6,640,000 yottaQuaffs.

Now I should get back to work...

1. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

I thought we'd settled on the jelly baby as a unit of energy?

1. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

Whether measured in jelly babies, Quaffs, Nolgs or (the more boring) Joules, that's one serious amount of energy being released. Clearly the Vogons are demolishing planets to make way for a hyperspace expressway.

2. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

"Lifting it approx 50cm from table to mouth would require approx 5 joules of energy, so I propose to name that one Quaff."

That's all well and good, it almost sounds like a proper exercise regime, but what's the ratio of calorific intake of 1 Quaff to the energy expended and can we make it negative while still using a decent beer?

1. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

can we make it negative while still using a decent beer?

Funny, I had the same thought, and the answer is, sadly, no, at least not without getting a very sore elbow. A pint of beer contains ~ 180 Calories, which is ~750kJ, or 150 kiloQuaffs.

2. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

Let me try to put this another (perhaps more familiar) way - apparently the Sun's daily output of energy is the e-equals-mc-square equivalent of the mass of about FIVE MILLION QE aircraft carriers every day (albeit that's without any double decker buses on deck). Now who's glad we don't have to foot THAT bill...?

3. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

That's a tough one because El Reg doesn't have a standard unit for energy, but it does have a unit for mass.

So doesn't that mean it can have a standard unit for energy, derived from its unit for mass? All you have to do is use the most famous equation in the world.

2. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

"The Sun's daily output" IS an El Reg standard unit.

1. Re: "The Sun's daily output" IS an El Reg standard unit.

It might be, but from what I heard on the news this morning, the Sun's daily output will now be a few jubs less than before.

2. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

"The Sun's daily output" IS an El Reg standard unit.

Not any more :-)

3. Re: Space is big, my brain just ain't

"The Sun's daily output" IS an El Reg standard unit.

2 Bulgarian Airbags, yes?

2. What accounts for fast radio bursts?

If they decode them, I bet they get:

"Come on down to Crazy Xorthax's Used Flying Saucer Emporium!! We keep a huge selection of pre-owned space cruisers and astro shuttles, all of them quality-certified by our on-site maintenance shop! And our prices?! Why, they're so low my competition thinks I was born without a second brain! And if you still need financing?--just ask for Honest Kithek in our credit department!! Why, we're practically givin' em away down here! Our secret?--small galaxy overhead with big galaxy volume!

So, if you need a new UFO now you know the place to go! Crazy Xorthax's, right off exit 3283174 in the Andromeda galaxy! Y'all come down now, ya' hear!!

1. Re: What accounts for fast radio bursts?

Depends upon the information density of the signal, and whether it is compressible - which would suggest a repeating component...

"We buy any UFO dot com! We buy any UFO dot com! We buy any UFO dot com! We buy any UFO dot com!"

1. Re: What accounts for fast radio bursts?

Wacky Waving Inflatable Tentacle-Flailing Tube-Creature!

Wacky Waving Inflatable Tentacle-Flailing Tube-Creature!

Wacky Waving Inflatable Tentacle-Flailing Tube-Creature!

2. Re: What accounts for fast radio bursts?

And then of course when we try to call to buy a space cruiser we're going to find out they've been out of business for 5.4 billion years. It's so annoying when the marketing budget outlives the business.

3. [tight beam, M32, tra. @n4.28.885.1008]

xROU Killing Time

oGCV Grey Area

Hey ... wanna see the monkeys freak out?

1. I love that you've got so many upvotes without anyone having to explain the reference.

Only on the Reg :)

1. AKA Meatfucker

Not only do I get the reference, i know which book it's from and approximately where :)

1. Re: AKA Meatfucker

Yugguy - go read it. It's great.

Steven R

2. [stuttered tight point, M32, tra. @n4.28.885.1189]

xGCV Grey Area

oROU Killing Time

Shhhh ... keep it down - you wouldn't believe the shitstorm I caused last time I played with the monkeys. All I did was reanimate one of them after they nailed it to a tree...

4. Local Sources

Given that the burst seems to peak in the 1200-1300 MHz band, I would suspect that it come from some anomalous propagation. The source could either be military radar or ham radio, as both occupy that band. A particularly robust meteor trail could provide the necessary source.

1. Re: Local Sources

How does a local source equate to the energy output? Is the "suns output" estimate adjusted for attenuation?

1. Re: Local Sources

If it didn't account for attenuation we wouldn't be having this conversation

2. Re: Local Sources

Ok, do we get Vulcan visiting rights for detecting a warp drive signature?

1. Re: Local Sources

EXPLAIN POLARIZATION!

1. Re: Polarization

Find a pair of Polaroid sunglasses, break them and use one lens to filter light from a torch (flashlight) and iluminate an otherwise dark scene with the polarized light. By using the other lens as a polarization analyzer see what reflection and or refraction does to the plane of polarization.

In general, reflected and refracted em waves have the polarization altered. Linear polarized waves can even end up elliptically polarized and vice versa.

5. SEND MORE PROBES

THE LAST ONES WERE DELICIOUS

6. “We record 8-bit full-polarization data from two orthogonal linear feeds per beam, with 1024 frequency channels over 400 MHz of bandwidth, from 1182 to 1582 MHz, and 64-μs time resolution”

...that sounds so much cooler than _any_ part of my job, Today's mission is to insert this quote - either in part or in its entirety - into today's weekly team meeting.

1. "Hey Brian, I've got a new sound system. We were playing around with it last night and we recorded 8-bit full-polarization data from two orthogonal linear feeds per beam, with 1024 frequency channels over 400 MHz of bandwidth, from 1182 to 1582 MHz, and 64-μs time resolution.

It sounded like that time we put the cat through the mangle when it was wet"

2. This post has been deleted by its author

3. Management

I suppose that's the current equivalent of those days when my technical associate and I used to converse about interociter issues across the table during Senior Management Meetings. They were duly minuted, once we had confirmed the spelling...(Have I got it right?)

7. R2

This is what happens if you go lightspeed while still listening to Radio2. A polarization vortex induces positive feedback into the antenna creating an unstable Mega-Wogan. Under inter-galactic law this is actually a crime.

8. Boffins - the most annoying word ever. Why the hell is the Reg so in love with it?

1. Boffins - the most annoying word ever. Why the hell is the Reg so in love with it?

If you need to ask that question, I think you're on the wrong website.

2. More research needed

I don't know why the Reg is so in love with it.

Perhaps we should put some boffins to work and find out.

1. Re: More research needed

whereas the Reg of old would have used the term 'Trick cyclists'. What's changed?

The old Reg had the tacit understanding that 'boffins' either made cool stuff- like explosions, laser-equipped sharks and robots - or otherwise used maths so complicated that blackboards would collapse under the weight of chalk and us lesser mortals would get a headache just looking in the general direction of one of their published papers.

1. Boffins != trick cyclists

The Reg uses both, and they have a different meaning in Reg-editor-speak.

3. Really?

You have read some of the maths being banded about here, this place is filled with boffins.

9. now we just have to slow it down and decode it ...prob just the history of a billion yr old race ..

1. Slowed down and decoded..."Vell....Zaphod's just zis guy, you know?"

1. Slowed down and reversed it's

"HAIL SATAN AND ALL THE DENIZENS OF HELL WHO WILL COME BEFORE HIM TO CLEAR THE WAY FOR HIS MILLION YEAR REIGN"

Steven R

2. Decoded

.- .-.. .-.. -.-- --- ..- .-. -... .- ... . .- .-. . -... . .-.. --- -. --. - --- ..- ...

We have confirmed it was not, repeat NOT 'We are the world'. Minsters are reminded of the advice by Pellegrino & Zebrowski prior to attempting any reply:

1. THEIR SURVIVAL WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SURVIVAL.

If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won't choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don't survive by being self-sacrificing.

2. WIMPS DON'T BECOME TOP DOGS.

No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary.

3. THEY WILL ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US.

1. Re: Decoded

THEY WILL CORRECTLY ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US.

TIFTFW

10. 64us?....

That is the period for 1 line of 625 line SD video.. hmmm...coincidence?...

(no not the active line period, that is 52 or 51.95 if talking analogue)

1. Re: 64us?....

64US... 6/4=2, 6/2=3....

Half Life 3 CONFIRMED!

11. Probably something big being ripped apart (mass converting to energy) and falling into the blackhole (strong magnetic source).

1. I would have thought those type of events would be a bit slower than the time-frame for this observation though.

1. Unless the event is traveling towards us very very very quickly?

1. "Unless the event is traveling towards us very very very quickly?"

That would be news in itself, as everything else in the universe is moving away.

1. "Unless the event is traveling towards us very very very quickly"

In that case, and at the energy levels reported, we are probably all toast in the morning.

2. That would be news in itself, as everything else in the universe is moving away.

Apart from Andromeda, of course, which is coming over to say hi sometime in the next 4 billion years. And it's impossible to say one way or the other regarding anything outside of the "observable universe" boundary.

The vast majority of stuff definitely seems to be actively avoiding us, though ^^;

1. It's almost like the entire Universe has taken one look at Earth and gone "nope!"

1. It's evidence of spiral galaxy bigotry at work, I tell ya!

2. It's almost like the entire Universe has taken one look at Earth and gone "nope!"

We waste our time arguing over things like who's allowed to boink whom while tearing up the environment and killing each other over which ideology is better. Can you really blame them from trying to get away from us?

12. AstroPulse= a 2010 Parks project ??

REF= Wiki, AstroPulse...Potential pulse finds... in 2010 Parks found 16 obvious terrestial signals... per the Wiki Article, none of this pulse research has actually been made public...this is the first.

IMHO= what we have here is first AstroPulse... NOT mentioning SETI or AstroPulse means they are using spare time as today's SETI stuff is privately scheduled / funded everywhere by folks who can afford to throw a small part of their funding towards non-mainstream science... REALITY= Parks is P/O the Austrialian Telescope National Facility in the Soutern Hemisphere using this microwave band for the last 50 years...many discoveries from Parks dish...RS.

eh?

1. Re: AstroPulse= a 2010 Parks project ??

I think roger is related to amanfrommars

2. Re: AstroPulse= a 2010 Parks project ??

All= Parks L-Band rcvr employes a wide band FDM multichannel radiometer using in-house FFT on each channel... probably 40 years old kit but still a Radio Telescope that works just fine...only a few of these left worldwide and L-Band is being looked at for mobile fone use as military and maritime radar is using bands above X-Band / 10 ghz for their present day kit.

the Austrailian Government in their "Science will no longer be funded if it doesn't yield a monetary return" has decided Parks is Redundant and will be closed / dismantled this year.

IMHO= this is the "last hurrah" of a unique museum piece that does not deserve the Benchly Park system of archiving ( take a pix , then bin it) and pix of the surrounding area cry for with at least an interpretive center b/4 being torn down and the scientists made redundant.

When this is gone, it will not be replaced..ever...RS.

13. Spock Mode On

Fascinating.

...Spock-on!

0^0

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah

1. Re: I find your observation...

Surely...

^0^

</Spock off>

14. I would like to know how they determined the distance of the emission at 5G light years? The terrestrial HF via meteor burst would seem the more likely explanation.

1. Dispersion. (The difference in arrival time of different frequencies indicates the distance travelled.)

I'm not a radio astronomer, but an AMS faq suggests meteor pulses are much longer (milliseconds to seconds) and easy to recognise.

1. Re: meteor showers etc

Radar pulses glinting off satelites, or reflected from meteor showers, etc etc.

There are well known EM pulses with high DM detected on earth in large numbers, but which are strictly Earth based. "Whistlers" are very low frequency pulses (but lasting seconds not mlliseconds) and result from lightning flashes 'streched' by earth based plasma.

Obviously whistler signals are not FRBs and obviously the boffins have been hard at work before suggesting the origin of the signals but a close-to-home origin doesn't seem to have been definitively ruled out yet.

Occam's razor and all that.

15. Seems a remarkable coincidence that this occurs at the same time as the infinite monkey cage starts again on R4

1. Re. Infinite Monkey Cage.

THANK YOU!

I always forget about that one and end up accidentally finding it at the end of the series. Tivo now set with series link :-)

16. Contact

Not even a single reference to Contact?

"A second layer, nested within the main signal; possibly... a picture? Product of three primes..."

1. Re: Contact

Its Galactacus the misspelled giant alien on his/her way

1. Re: Contact

Wasn't that in a song by some Aussie bloke? Rolf something I think.

"Now the ladies of the harem of the court of King Galactacus, were just passing by..."

Whatever happened to him I wonder?

1. Re: Contact

Whatever happened to him I wonder?

Some of the young ladies didn't pass by.

2. Re: Contact

Worst 6 words to hear before having sex:

"Can you guess what it is yet?"

1. Re: Contact

"Worst 6 words to hear before having sex:"

I thought it was 5:

"There were two little boys"

1. Re: Contact

"Ever seen a didgeridoo?"

2. Re: Contact

> Worst 6 words to hear before having sex

These are 7. Words.

1. Re: Contact

Feck, you're right. Good job I'm not a radio scientist.

#

Worst four words to hear AFTER sex?

17. Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station ..

Lucky we only caught the tail end of that one I think.

1. Re: Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station ..

It happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away...

No wonder it took so long to arrive....

18. Could it be...

a Dirac beep?

1. Re: Could it be...

I'd forgotten about that one! I need to download more James Blish to my ereader and revisit some old favourites, just as I've done with (what I think is) the entire corpus of Heinlein work.

19. Re: The FRB is well outside the Milky Way, at 5.5 billion light-years' distance.

A radio telescope cannot measure the distance to a source. It can only measure the DM (the burst is detected later at lower frequencies). The standard interpretation is that the radio signal traversed a tenuous plasma in our 'own' Galaxy and - if the RM is larger - in the extragalactic medium or near the source.

The large circular polarization of 21±7% for FRB 140514 hints at extraordinary conditions at the source. A distance of 5.5 billion light-years for FRB 140514 is an upper limit.

20. Ah, the final feedback on the Reg redesign is now incoming. I'm sure it'll all be positive, just like it was here on Earth.

1. Get ready for turd impact!

21. Oops! The writer sadly didn't follow the Register's style guide - the words are Spaaaace and Gaaalaaaxy

22. Your message could not be delivered

At 5.5 billion light-years distance, this email with attached circularly polarized lulz cat video, was sent 1 beelion years before the formation of our planet.

I can now reveal its decoded text contents. It's a chain email. Unless each recipient forwards it to 20 other civilizations by midnight Saturday, they are doomed. How the senders knew we'd be here to decode this message now may never be known, because the Chronicles end with

<Winnt_root>\System32\Hal.dll missing or corrupt:

Please re-install a copy of the above file.

I hope the boffins at Parkes know what to do next.

1. Re: Your message could not be delivered

MAXO signals!

23. Battlestar Galactica

"Cylon base station to Cylon attack fleet, commence attack now..."

24. In seriousness though

The main thing to note about this is that we do not know of anything that could produce this burst, or of anything strong enough magnetically to affect it in such a way. Wonderful thing physics, we're still learning new stuff daily :)

1. Re: In seriousness though

How about Magnetars? They will erase your VISA from light years away.

They will erase your VISA from light years away.

Nop, even a magnetar with 10^12T has to be at the distance of Jupiter to make its magnetic field 5 times stronger than the geomagnetic field. May be enough to erase your VISA, but I guess you will have other things to worry about with a magnetar in your backyard.

Is that a magnetar in your backyard or are you just electrified by me?

25. So they've just resorted to falsifying data now?

Sad, but somewhat predictable. No wonder there is no longer any interest in the wasteful and pointless space programme.

1. I don't suppose you want to elaborate on any of that posting?

No, thought not.

26. Cave Johnson here

Uh, yeah that was us, it says Paul is dead. The researchers during our extra-earth outsourcing initiative thought it would be funny to bounce it off a distant pulsar, too bad they are all too dead to hear it. Damn hippies, When life gives you lemons...

Cave Johnson, We're done here.

27. "Why don't you call me maybe?"

28. Wow!

29. "The Sun's daily output"

has gone down a bit, due to no page 3 girl....

30. It's as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced

1. Also known as the Chilcott Report ...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.