According to The Independent, Scientists might have found proof of alien life but misunderstood it, according to one Harvard professor.

Strange radio waves that come down to Earth might actually be leakage from a huge light-powered ship deep in space.

Fast radio bursts, long thought to be perhaps the most mysterious message in the universe, might actually be evidence of advanced alien technology, according to Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. But researchers might not be doing enough to check whether the source of them is what Professor Loeb speculates – leakage from planet-sized transmitters that are powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies.

"Fast radio bursts are exceedingly bright given their short duration and origin at great distances, and we haven't identified a possible natural source with any confidence," said theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "An artificial origin is worth contemplating and checking."

Fast radio bursts are short flashes of radio emissions that are picked up on Earth, and whose source has never been identified. They were first picked up in 2007, and scientists have only detected fewer than two dozen of them since – but have noticed strange, apparently organised, patterns in how they are found.

Professor Loeb along with Harvard's Manasvi Lingam have explored whether those strange messages could be coming from a huge radio transmitter that is so powerful that it could throw its messages across the galaxy. They found that it would be possible build such a transmitter – if it were solar powered, it would need the sunlight falling on an area of a planet twice the size of Earth to generate enough energy.

Such a technology is far beyond what we could ever hope to build today, the scientists note. But it is not beyond the law of physics, or out of the reach of a very developed alien civilisation.

The two scientists also explored whether it would actually be possible to build such a technology, or whether it would require so much energy that it would just end up melting itself. They found that if it were water-cooled and twice the size of the Earth, it would be able to withstand its own heat.

What is less clear is why an alien civilisation would build such a thing in the first place. But the researchers speculate that the energy being sent out is driving interstellar light sails, where spacecraft ride along on light waves in the same way a boat moves through the ocean. Whatever is generating the FRBs is powerful enough to push around something weighing a million tons, or about 20 times the biggest cruise ships we have ever built.

"That's big enough to carry living passengers across interstellar or even intergalactic distances," said Professor Lingam.

To power such a craft, the transmitter would have to be constantly pointing its beam towards wherever the ship was in space. If that were happening, we would only pick up brief flashes of energy – because the ship itself, the planet that is powering it, and its own star and galaxy are all constantly moving too.

That would explain why the burst comes to Earth repeatedly but intermittently. Scientists haven't been able to explain the FRBs' patterns with reference to the huge astrophysical events that would usually send such huge amounts of energy towards us.

It would also explain the frequency that the radio waves are pitched at. The optimal frequency for powering such a light sail is similar to the FRBs that we have detected, the authors write in their paper.

Loeb says that his work is speculative and that more work must be done to check whether such an idea would be possible. It doesn't matter whether or not he believes that they are caused by aliens, he said.

"Science isn't a matter of belief, it's a matter of evidence. Deciding what’s likely ahead of time limits the possibilities. It's worth putting ideas out there and letting the data be the judge.”

The research, 'Fast Radio Bursts from Extragalactic Light Sails', has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters and is already available online.

In that paper, the researchers speculate on the mass of the light sail and the angular velocity that any beam would be sent at.