Astronomers have spotted the brightest fast radio burst ever recorded - and they say it will help finally pinpoint the source of the strange 'alien signals'.
Fast radio bursts are brief, bright pulses of radio emissions and they have baffled astronomers for almost a decade.
Since they were first found in 2007, scientists have been unable to determine the origin of the radio emissions, which last just a few milliseconds.
Some claim they may be a message from ET, while others suggest they are created by a neutron star cocooned by a strong magnetic field.
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Mysterious 'signals from extra terrestrials', known as fast radio bursts (artist's impression), have been detected by astronomers - including the brightest to ever be observed. The unusual strength of the signal may help scientists to crack the secrets of their origins
So far, only 33 FRBs have been detected, but two groups of researchers have uncovered three more in recent days.
The first was discovered by Breakthrough Listen, which looks for signs of intelligent life in the universe and has been funded with $100 million (£75 million) of investment over ten years from internet mogul Yuri Milner.
The second and third were identified by a team of researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, on March 9 and 11.
The flash discovered on March 9 is around 4.5 times brighter than the next brightest signal ever uncovered according to the FRB Catalogue, a list of FRBs compiled by the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy.
All three FRBs were found using Australia's Parkes Telescope.
'Finding three this quickly is quite unusual,' Peter Williams, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told New Scientist. 'It seems like it was just luck.'
Only one FRB in the catalogue has been detected flashing more than once, but some researchers believe all FRBs repeat, with some too dim for us to see all of their flashes.
The flash discovered on March 9 is around 4.5 times brighter than the next brightest signal ever uncovered according to the FRB Catalogue. All three FRBs were found using Australia's Parkes Telescope (pictured)
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are radio emissions that appear temporarily and randomly, making them not only hard to find, but also hard to study.
The mystery stems from the fact it is not known what could produce such a short and sharp burst.
This has led some to speculate they could be anything from stars colliding to artificially created messages.
Scientists searching for fast radio bursts (FRBs) that some believe may be signals sent from aliens may be happening every second. The blue points in this artist's impression of the filamentary structure of galaxies are signals from FRBs
The first FRB was spotted, or rather 'heard' by radio telescopes, back in 2001 but wasn't discovered until 2007 when scientists were analysing archival data.
But it was so temporary and seemingly random that it took years for astronomers to agree it wasn't a glitch in one of the telescope's instruments.
Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics point out that FRBs can be used to study the structure and evolution of the universe whether or not their origin is fully understood.
A large population of faraway FRBs could act as probes of material across gigantic distances.
This intervening material blurs the signal from the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the left over radiation from the Big Bang.
A careful study of this intervening material should give an improved understanding of basic cosmic constituents, such as the relative amounts of ordinary matter, dark matter and dark energy, which affect how rapidly the universe is expanding.
FRBs can also be used to trace what broke down the 'fog' of hydrogen atoms that pervaded the early universe into free electrons and protons, when temperatures cooled down after the Big Bang.
Some researchers have hypothesised that all FRBs repeat, and that they’re too dim for us to see all of the bursts.
Maura McLaughlin at West Virginia University in Morgantown, added that the March 9 FRB's unusual brightness should make future detections easier if the repeating FRB hypothesis is correct.
She also believes future detection of further FRBs should be forthcoming, given that there are now so many people on the lookout for them.
Professor McLaughlin said: 'Everyone’s sort of jumping on this bandwagon of looking for FRBs in the background all the time no matter what else is going on.
'This should lead to a huge uptick in detections in the next year