Strange radio waves coming from the heart of the Milky Way confuse scientists
(CNN) – Astronomers have detected unusual radio waves coming from the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The energy signal, unlike any previously studied phenomenon, may suggest a previously unknown stellar object, according to a new study.
Jiteng Wang, lead author of a new study in The Astrophysical Journal and a doctoral student at the Sydney School of Physics, said that the brightness of an object varies dramatically and the signal becomes approximately on and off.
“The strange property of this new signal is that it has a very high polarity. This means that its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates over time,” he said in a statement.
The team initially thought it might be a pulsar, a very dense (dead) neutron star, or a fast-rotating type of star. However, the signals of these new radio waves do not match what astronomers expect from these types of stars.
The immovable object is named for its coordinates in the night sky: ASKAP J173608,2-321635.
“This material is unique, it’s invisible, bright, faded, and then reappears. This behavior is unusual,” said Tara Murphy, associate professor of research at the Sydney Institute of Astronomy and a school physics professor. University of Sydney. Sydney, in a statement.
The object was first discovered during a survey of the sky using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder Radio Telescope, also known as the ASKAP, a 36 – point single telescope at the Murchison Radio Astronomical Observatory in Western Australia. Follow-up was performed by the Parks Radio Telescope in New South Wales and the Mirgate Telescope at the South African Radio Astronomical Observatory.
However, the Parks telescope could not locate the source.
“We tested the most sensitive Meerkat radio telescope in South Africa. We watched 15 minutes every few weeks because the signal was uninterrupted and had to watch again,” Murphy said in the statement.
“Fortunately, the signal came back, but we found that the behavior of the source was dramatically different: in our previous ASKAP observations, despite lasting weeks, the evidence disappeared overnight.”
Murphy said powerful telescopes like the planned square kilometer array would help solve the mystery. The Matrix is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, which is expected to be completed within the next decade.