October 22, 2021

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Strange New Radio Signal Coming From The Centre Of Milky Way Baffle Astronomers



A strange, flashing radio signal coming from the center of the milky way galaxy is baffling astronomers. The signals pattern is unlikely anything observed before and does not fit under any currently understood variable radio source patterns.

In a new paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, an international team of scientists speculates that the signals might indicate the existence of an entirely new class of cosmic objects.

The highly polarized, variable radio source ASKAP J173608.2-321635 was first discovered using the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope in Western Australia. Several follow-up observations were also made using South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s MeerKAT Telescope.

” The strangest property of this new signal is that it is has a very high polarization. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time,” said Ziteng Wang, lead author of the paper and a physics Ph.D. student at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Wang also added that the brightness of the object also varies by a factor of 100, which is quite dramatic, and the signal also seems to switch off randomly. It’s unlike anything ever observed by astronomers before.

Initially, the signal was thought to be a pulsar, a type of spinning dead star with high density that may also emit huge solar flares. However, the radio signals didn’t match the type of signals usually emitted by pulsars.

“We have been surveying the sky with ASKAP to find unusual new objects with a project known as variables and slow transients (VASTs), throughout 2020 and 2021,” said Tara Murphy, a professor of Astronomy at Sydney Institute’s School of Physics and Mr. Wang’s Ph.D. supervisor.

After initially detecting the signal across nine months in 2020, astronomers couldn’t find it for a while, either in visual light or using the Parkes radio telescope.

“Looking towards the center of the galaxy, we found ASKAP J173608.2-321635, named after its coordinates. This object was unique in that it started out invisible, became bright, faded away, and then reappeared. This behavior was extraordinary,” Murphy added.

Cover Image: Shutterstock



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