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An international Ph.D. student in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney discovered unusual radio waves emanating from the center of a galaxy that may give astronomers clues about what signals may be sending, according to a News release.


Ziteng Wang reported his findings to Signal in a study published October 12 in “The Astrophysical Journal.” The signal was first detected in January of 2020 and was detected six times thereafter, According to the study.

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Wang used CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescopes 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 very high polarization. This means that its light rotates in only one direction, but that direction rotates over time,” Wang said in a news release.

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According to Wang the radio wave is called ASKAP J173608.2−321635 – after the telescope that first discovered it and the coordinates where it originated – and is very “unique”.

Upon its discovery, researchers say that the radio waves were invisible. As the researchers continued their analysis, the waves became more observable. The study authors noted that they were surprised to learn that radio waves would disappear and then reappear several times.

“This behavior was extraordinary,” Wang continued.

According to Professor Tara Murphy, radio waves come and go intermittently, which is unusual. Sydney Institute for Astronomy and the school of physics, and the supervisor of Wang.

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“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 lasted for weeks in our previous ASKAP observations,” Murphy said in a news release. Was.”

Wang originally believed that the radio waves were a type of pulsar signal, possibly coming from solar flares, but the signals coming from the heart of the galaxy did not match those that normally come from solar flares.

Astronomers who continuously monitor radio waves said the characteristics and sporadic emergence of the signals are similar to those of a recently discovered class of mysterious space objects called “Galactic Center Radio Transients”, said co-observer, Professor David Kaplan, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said in the news release.

One of the mysterious objects placed in this category, sharing the same characteristics as ASKAP J173608.2-321635, has been named the “Cosmic Burper”.

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“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, so it adds to the mystery,” Kaplan said.

Scientists await completion of Transcontinental square kilometer array (SKA) radio telescopes that will allow the ability to make sensitive maps of the sky and potentially detect what is actually sending these mysterious radio waves from the center of our galaxy.

“We hope that the power of this telescope will help us solve mysteries like this latest discovery, but it will also open up vast new areas of the universe for exploration across the radio spectrum,” Murphy said.