Astronomers studying radio signals from space say they have identified a pattern in a signal coming from a neighboring galaxy half a billion light-years away. This is the first time a pattern in a repeating fast radio burst has been detected.
Not all radio signals from space repeat. Among those that do, the repetition has been observed in clusters or randomly.
This repeating signal, named FRB 180916.J0158+65, runs on a 16.35-day cycle. For four days, the signal will release one or two bursts per hour. Twelve days of silence follow. Then, the four days of signal pings start again.
The exact source of the signal — and why it runs on a 16-day cycle — remain unknown. Some experts have proposed the signal may be coming from a star and that wind patterns and interactions between the star and a neighboring star may explain the pattern.
It is possible that many repeating radio bursts have patterns that have not yet been identified.