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t’s the ultimate alternative energy source. Some of the mysterious radio signals flashing far outside our galaxy may be powered by cosmic batteries. Black holes and neutron stars may hook up into a kind of circuit just before they collide, producing ultra-short, ultra-bright blasts of radio waves.

Astronomers first detected a fast radio burst (FRB) in 2007 – a big flash that released more energy in a few milliseconds than the sun does in a month. Since then, we have found 10 more. Their origins remained a mystery, with theories ranging from star flares to messages from ET.

Now a study suggests that some of the bursts come from black holes in orbit with neutron stars, the dense cores of collapsed stars. When these duos spiral towards each other, their close approach creates a sort of battery, which creates the power that sends these strange bursts into space.

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