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We have detected some strange radio signals that do not match anything we know: intermittent glows coming from the heart of the Milky Way

“A brightness that changes dramatically; a signal that turns on and off seemingly at random.” With those words, Ziteng Wang, a doctoral student at the University of Sydney School of Physics, describes a series of extremely unusual radio signals coming from the center of the Milky Way.

“The strangest property of this new signal is that it has a very high polarization. This means that its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time,” they explained in The Astrophysical Journal. Therefore, although the team I had initially thought that it could be a pulsar, the truth is that the data does not quite add up.

Beyond the pulsar?

Also, in many ways, the object made a very peculiar appearance: “It started out invisible, turned bright, faded, and then reappeared. This behavior is extraordinary, “explained other study co-author Tara Murphy, a professor at the Sydney Institute of Astronomy.

In fact, although it was initially discovered during a survey of the sky using ASKAP (a radio telescope has 36 dishes that work together as a single telescope in Western Australia), the search with other telescopes such as the Parkes of New South Wales did not find the signal.

Subsequently, the more sensitive MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, he did find the signal and found that “it was intermittent” and it is only being observed “for 15 minutes every few weeks.” This raises interesting questions about what can produce such a signal. The problem is that, although the team wants to use more powerful telescopes, the answer is difficult to find.

Surely, A decade remains for radio telescopes capable of solving the mystery to be finished and up and running. However, it is good news that we are beginning to see the first clues of everything that is yet to be discovered.

Image | Carlos Kenobi