Periodically, the Earth receives short radio emission from some mysterious place. Such events are called fast radio bursts (FRB). Astronomers do not fully understand where they come from and what creates them, because events last only a millisecond. But Harvard researchers are hoping that a mobile phone will help solve the situation.
Representatives of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggest that the free smartphone app will greatly assist the experts. The researchers managed to find a little less than 20 FRB. To find them, had to use massive radio telescopes. It seems that the found FRB come from distant galaxies. But they suspect that there must be some signals in the Milky Way. And ordinary mobile phones will help you find them.
Lead author Dan Maoz from Tel Aviv University explains:
“The FRB in the Milky Way are close, therefore they will collapse all over the planet at once. If thousands of specially configured mobile phones picked up this radio signal at the same time, then we would be able to record the event. ”
Previous FRBs were received on radio frequencies used by cell phones. You can create a special application that will track these frequencies in the background. Maoz believes that a dedicated network of detectors will be a cheap solution.
Physicist Avi Loeb says:
“The search for the nearest FRB gives civilian scientists the opportunity to help astronomers find and study one of the newest types of events in the galactic zoo”.
We'll have to disappoint all those who want to get a call from the aliens. Experts believe that FRB in the Milky Way galaxy will appear only in the next 30-1500 years. However, this is a recurring event, so we may be lucky to catch one in the next ten years, not centuries.