Astronomers have wondered about the mysterious radio waves that come from the heart of the Milky Way. At this point, they have no idea why they are happening, according to new study published Tuesday in the Astrophysical Journal. “
a University of Sydney press release said the object was discovered by a team of scientists from around the world, using a telescope in western Austria that belongs to the Australian government’s Agency for Scientific Research.
Unusual signals coming from the direction of the center of the Milky Way – “radio waves that do not conform to the currently understood pattern of a variable radio source” – could indicate a new class of stellar objects, according to the university press release. . She said.
The strangest feature of this new signal is that it has a very high polarization. This means that its light only oscillates in one direction, but that direction rotates over time. ” Zhiteng Wang, lead author of the new study and a doctoral student in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.
The brightness of the object also varies greatly, by a factor of 100, and the signal turns on and off seemingly randomly. We have never seen anything like this before, ”said Wang. She said.
Wang to explain that scientists initially thought it could be a pulsar, “a very dense type of spinning dead star, or a type of star that emits massive solar flares.” However, the signals from the new source do not match those expected from these types of orbs, according to Wang.
The uniqueness of the radio signal, which was named ASKAP J173608.2-321635 after its coordinates, was that it “started to be invisible, then turned bright and faded before reappearing,” an “unusual behavior.” She said Tara Murphy, Wang’s PhD supervisor and professor at the Sydney Institute of Astronomy and School of Physics.
Over the course of nine months in 2020, astronomers detected six radio signals from the source, trying to find the object in visible light, but were unsuccessful, according to the press release. She said.
Scientists turned to Parks’ radio telescope and again failed to discover the source. However, by using South Africa’s most sensitive MeerKAT radio telescope, Murphy Ella said, that is, because the signal was intermittent, scientists were able to monitor it for 15 minutes every few weeks.
Fortunately, the signal returned, but Murphy noted that the behavior of the source was “significantly different”, disappearing in one day, while it “lasted for weeks” when it was observed by the Australian telescope.
This additional discovery did not reveal much about the secrets of this transient radio source, and scientists continue to search for answers, according to a press release from the University of Sydney.