Earlier this month, scientists from Canada detected 16 signals coming from deep space. These signals are known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), and what they are exactly is a bit of a mystery. But what is known is that FRBs can emit as much energy in a second as 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.
The most likely explanation is these signals original from powerful gamma-ray bursts – brief, yet extreme, radioactive bursts from stars.
However, one leading astrophysicist has said scientists cannot rule out the possibility these signals were sent across the cosmos by an advanced civilisation.
Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard University’s astronomy department, told Futurism: “At the moment we do not have a smoking gun that clearly indicates the nature of FRBs.
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The most likely explanation is these signals original from powerful gamma-ray bursts
“So all possibilities should be considered, including an artificial origin.”
One possibility, according to Dr Loeb, is an advanced alien race is using these beams to transport cargo from stars to stars.
To do this, it would require technology and energy far beyond humanity’s capabilities,.
Dr Loeb continued: “This would require a huge engineering project, far more ambitious than we currently have on Earth.
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“This would require a huge engineering project, far more ambitious than we currently have on Earth.”
“So the main technological challenge is in the huge power that the radio beam needs to carry.”
Some experts have previously warned against trying to contact them.
Even Stephen Hawking, who died in March 2018, suggested it might be risky contacting aliens.
The example in his final book told of when Europeans encountered native Americans and almost killed them off in order to conquer the New World.
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“Meeting a more advanced civilisation, at our present stage, might be a bit like the original inhabitants of America meeting Columbus”
Prof Hawking wrote in Brief Answers To The Big Questions: “Breakthrough Message is an international competition to create messages that could be read by an advanced civilisation.
“But we need to be wary of answering back until we have developed a bit further.
“Meeting a more advanced civilisation, at our present stage, might be a bit like the original inhabitants of America meeting Columbus – and I don’t think they thought they were better off for it.”
Olle Häggström, a professor of mathematical statistics at Chalmers University and author of the existential risk book Here Be Dragons, said an advanced extraterrestrial civilisation could see humanity as a threat and destroy us.
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Mr Häggström told Bryan Walsh, author of the new book End Times which analyses the existential threats which humanity faces: “There are optimists who say that good things can come out of establishing communications.
“We could learn wonderful things from them. But an extraterrestrial civilisation of very advanced technology might be a threat – and they may want to get rid of us before we become a threat to them.
“There are real evolutionary-style arguments pointing int that direction. Maybe we would be better off observing exoplanets for ten or 20 years until we’re in a better position to assess the risk of communication. The risk is too great.”