SYDNEY: An international team of astronomers has discovered for the first time unusual signals coming from the direction of the center of the Milky Way.
The radio waves do not match any currently understood pattern of a variable radio source and could suggest a new class of planet, the team from Australia, United States, Germany, Canada, South Africa, said. from Spain and France.
Astronomers first thought it could be a pulsar – a very dense type of spinning dead star – or a type of star that emits huge solar flares, but the signals did not correspond to these types of celestial objects.
Using CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope, the team found ASKAP J173608.2-321635 and followed up with the South African Radio Astronomical Observatory’s MeerKAT telescope.
“This object was unique in that it started out invisible, became shiny, faded and then reappeared. This behavior was extraordinary,” said Professor Tara Murphy, of the Sydney Astronomical Institute and from the School of Physics. The results are published in the Astrophysical Journal.
The team first detected six radio signals from the source over nine months in 2020. Astronomers tried to find the object in visual light, but found nothing. They turned to Parkes’ radio telescope and again failed to detect the source.
Because the signal was intermittent, the team watched it for 15 minutes every few weeks, hoping to see it again. However, this new discovery did not reveal much more about the secrets of this transient radio source.
“The strangest property of this new signal is that it has a very strong polarization. This means that its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates over time,” said lead author Ziteng Wang, doctoral student. at the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.
“The object’s brightness also varies considerably, by a factor of 100, and the signal turns on and off seemingly randomly. We’ve never seen anything like it,” Wang added.
While the new object, ASKAP J173608.2-321635, shares some properties with galactic center radio transients, there are also differences, which add to the mystery. Scientists plan to keep a close eye on the object for more clues as to what it might be.