Dozens of ‘mysterious radio bursts’ from outer space are detected by alien-hunting artificial intelligence

The Breakthrough Listen program found 72 new fast radio bursts – mysterious space signals – coming from a galaxy three billion light years away.

Space scientists have been hunting for mysterious alien signals for years, but it's difficult to find anything meaningful – space is huge, after all.

The big problem isn't actually collecting the data, but trawling through it.

That's why scientists enlisted artificial intelligence and machine learning tech to hunt for these signals within existing data caches. Robots work much quicker than humans.

This latest discovery came after AI dug through 400 terabytes of data collected in August last year. A single terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, or 1million megabytes – and an hour-long BBC iPlayer programme takes up just 160 megabytes of space.


Scientists have named the source of these newly discovered signals, way outside the Milky Way galaxy, as "repeater" FRB 121102.

FRBs are single, bright pulses of radio emission from extremely distant galaxies which last just milliseconds.

But FRB 121102 is the only one ever recorded to emit repeated bursts.

Breakthrough Listen recorded 23 such bursts from FRB 121102 using the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia in 2017.


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