An international doctorate. A student at the University of Sydney’s School of Physics has discovered unusual radio waves emanating from the center of the Milky Way, prompting astronomers to search for evidence of what could be sending the signals, according to a Press release.
Ziteng Wang reported his signal findings in a study published in “The Astrophysical Journal” on October 12. The signal was first identified in January 2020 and detected six more times thereafter, according to the study.
Wang used CSIRO Australian Square Kilometer Network Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope during the initial discovery of radio waves and follow-up observations were made with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory MeerKAT telescope, the study authors wrote.
“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 this direction rotates over time,” Wang said in a press release.
FILE – A view of the Milky Way appears in the night sky.
The radio wave is dubbed ASKAP J173608.2−321635 – after the telescope that first discovered it and the coordinates of its origin – and is very “unique”, according to Wang.
When discovered, researchers say radio waves were invisible. As the researchers continued their analysis, the waves became more observable. The study authors noted that they were amazed to find that the radio waves disappeared and then reappeared several times.
“This behavior was extraordinary,” Wang continued.
The radio waves came and went intermittently, which is unusual, according to Professor Tara Murphy, also from the Sydney Astronomical Institute and the School of Physics, and Wang’s supervisor.
“Fortunately, the signal returned, but we found that the behavior of the source was dramatically different – the source disappeared in a single day, even though it had lasted for weeks in our previous ASKAP observations,” Murphy said in a statement. Press release.
Wang originally believed that the radio waves were a type of pulsar signal, possibly coming from solar flares, but the signals coming from the core of the galaxy did not match those that normally come from solar flares.
Astronomers who continuously monitor the radio waves said the patterns and sporadic emergence of the signals are akin to a class of recently discovered mysterious space objects called “Galactic Center Radio Transients”, co-supervisor Professor David Kaplan , from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said in the press release.
One of the mysterious objects that have been placed in this category that shares similar characteristics to ASKAP J173608.2-321635 is named the “cosmic burper”.
“While our new object, ASKAP J173608.2-321635, shares some properties with GCRTs, there are also differences. And we don’t really understand those sources, anyway, so that adds to the mystery,” Kaplan added. .
Scientists await the completion of the transcontinental square kilometer network (SKA) radio telescope that will create sensitive maps of the sky and could potentially pinpoint exactly what is sending these mysterious radio waves from the center of our galaxy.
“We hope the power of this telescope will help us solve mysteries like this latest discovery, but it will also open up vast new swaths of the cosmos to exploration across the radio spectrum,” Murphy said.