Astronomers have discovered strange radio waves emanating from the galactic core, but they have no clue what's producing them.
Researchers published their study, titled "External Inverse-Compton Emission from Low-luminosity Gamma-Ray Bursts: Application to GRB 190829A," in the Astrophysical Journal on Tuesday.
Planets, stars, and galaxies during the early stages of formation frequently send out radio signals from deep space, Science Daily explained. However, the seemingly random nature of this enigmatic signal is a first, thus turning it into an astronomical detective narrative.
Scientists Discover 'Mysterious' Radio Signals Close to Galactic Core
According to ABC Australia, the scientists initially discovered this signal four times in two weeks using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope in the Western Australian Outback.
The signal, Brinkwire said, also appears to occur at a high rate of randomness.
Study co-author Tara Murphy said the signal occasionally lingers and is visible for days or even weeks. It "turns on or off" in a day at times, which they believe is very rapid for any astronomical object.
The astronomers named the signal ASKAP J173608.2-321635 after its coordinates, which indicated its proximity to the galactic center.
Researchers Note An Unusual Pattern From This Signal
Astronomers discovered an inexplicable random signals near the center of the Milky Way galaxy in January last year. According to this tweet from the University of Sydney, experts believe the radio signal is a "new" sort of star object because it does not appear to follow a pattern.
"We’ve never seen anything like it" 👀 #USYD astronomers have discovered unusual signals coming from the #MilkyWay’s centre which fit no currently understood patterns of variable radio source & could suggest a new class of #Stellar object 🌌 pic.twitter.com/1w6dteSkYY— University of Sydney (@Sydney_Uni) October 12, 2021
Apart from the odd appearances and timings, the intensity of the radio signal has fluctuated. According to experts, there was a period when it grew 100 times brighter when detected in the radio spectrum.
Scientists said the orientation of the radio signal was also unique: it seems to be in just one direction and rotates as it moves towards the Earth.
Professor Murphy said these characteristics "rule out" nearly every astronomical object they are aware of.
Decoding Radio Wave
Ziteng Wang, the study lead author, has a few ideas about the origins of the radio wave. And, before you jump to the conclusion that it's another living object, think again.
The seeming unpredictability of the transmission is the major reason behind this. Given this, Unilad UK said Wang's team originally assumed the source was a pulsar, a super-dense spinning dead star.
It might have been a sort of star that produces large solar flares. Despite this, the random characteristics of the radio broadcast led experts to conclude that it does not fit the profile of any known astronomical object.
How This South African Telescope Detect The Radio Wave
The astronomers used the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa after initially discovering it with ASKAP, New Scientist reported.
The radio telescope eventually detected the signal, allowing the crew to monitor it for at least 15 minutes every few weeks. When it did "return," the scientists stated that the signal's source behaved quite differently-it seemed to vanish in a single day, despite having been monitored for many weeks with the ASKAP telescope.
Gemma Anderson, an astrophysicist at Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, who was not involved in the study, said it's not easy to spot transient objects. One has to hope that their telescope is pointing at the right part of the sky to notice it and it might not appear again for weeks, months or ever.
Check out more news and information on Space in Science Times.