The Green Bank Telescope used to detect the FRBs.The Green Bank Telescope used to detect the FRBs.Breakthrough Listen—a program seeking intelligent extraterrestrial communications—has detected 15 fast radio bursts coming from a dwarf galaxy some three billion light years from Earth.

In the early hours of August 26, UC Berkeley Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Vishal Gajjar detected the signals coming from FRB 121102, an extragalactic source of radio bursts first discovered in 2012. Gajjar culled the signals from a 400 TB data set he collected using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are brief, bright radio pulses from other galaxies. The FRBs detected on August 26 are higher in frequency than previous ones, at around 7 GHz. According to a Breakthrough Listen press release, our local Solar System was only two billion years old when the signal originated, and life on Earth consisted solely of single-celled organisms.

FRB detection first occurred in 2007 and has been sporadic since then, so the source of these emissions is purely speculative. Some scientists believe they may be the result of collisions between two very dense objects like black holes, or the result of gamma-ray bursts. Others believe they may be artificial and could point to signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.