Extraordinary radio waves discovered coming from the heart of the Milky Way
Mysterious radio waves coming from the heart of the Milky Way have astronomers baffled. According to a new study published Tuesday in the Astrophysical Journal, they have no idea whats causing them at this time.
The object was discovered by a team of scientists from across the world, according to 'a university of Sydney news release', using he Western Austrialia telescope belonging to the Australian government's scientific research agency.
The Universitys news release stated that the unusual signals coming from the direction of the Milky Way s center radio waves that fit no currently understood pattern of variable radio source may suggest a new class of stellar object.
The strangest property of this new signal is that it has a very high polarisation. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time, said Ziteng Wang, the lead author of the new study and a PhD student in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.
The brightness of the object also differs by a factor of 100, and the signal switches on and off apparently randomly. Wang stated, Weve never seen anything like it.
Wang said that at first, scientists believed it was a pulsar a dense type of spinning dead star - or merely spherical stars with enormous solar flares. According to Wang, the signals from the new source do not match those expected from such celestial objects.
The uniqueness of the radio signal dubbed ASKAP J173608.2-321635 after its coordinates - was that it started out invisible, then it turned bright and faded away before reappearing again, according to Tara Murphy, Wang's PhD supervisor and a professor at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and the School of Physics.
During a nine-month period in 2020, astronomers detected six radio signals from the source, trying to locate the object in visual light, but were unsuccessful, according to the news release.
Scientists turned to the Parkes radio telescope and failed to locate the source. Murphy claims that, because the signal was intermittent, scientists were able to observe it for 15 minutes every few weeks when using the more sensitive MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa.
The signal returned, but Murphy noted that the source's behavior was dramatically different, disappearing in a single day, while the signal had lasted for weeks when observed by the Australian telescope.
According to a University of Sydney news release, this additional finding did not reveal much more about the secrets of this transient radio source, and scientists are still searching for answers.