‘Extraordinary’ & Unknown Radio Signal Discovered In The Heart Of Milky Way

Something near the center of the Milky Way buzzed Earth, but astronomers aren’t sure what it might be.

Credit: University of Sydney

Over in Western Australia in the area where the the Wajarri Yamatji people post up, a very impressive group of radio telescopes wait to find interesting things in space. It’s actually “one of the most capable telescope arrays in the world.” The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder is a collection of 36 dish antennas and is considered to be an eye of the universe.

Well, like many had expected, it discovered something wonky.

It observed a range of characteristics and highly unusual radio sources from the depths of the Milky Way. 

“This object was unique in that it started out invisible, became bright, faded away and then reappeared,” said Tara Murphy, an astrophysicist at the University of Sydney and co-author on the paper, in a press release. “This behavior was extraordinary.”

Credit: University of Sydney

The team that works with the telescopes originally thought that the radio signal was emerging from a pulsar —  a type of neutron star that is super dense and throws off electromagnetic radiation while spinning like crazy in space. After that observation, the team went searching for the pulsar using the Murriyang telescope at the observatory in Australia.

They were left empty handed.

They kept searching through the data gathered by NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory found no X-rays associated with the signal and data from the VISTA telescope, in Chile, also showed no near-infrared signal.

The Ghost, which is what they’re calling it, left little trace. 

This so-called Ghost had an “irregular buzzing” but the researchers say that the most unusual feature about it was the circular polarization.

“Polarization relates to how the radio wave moves through space and time — we’re not going to get into it here, but this entry on Wikipedia is actually quite good at explaining it. What you need to know is circular polarization is a rare phenomenon in the cosmos, making this radio signal rather interesting.”

“Much less than 1% of sources are circularly polarized,” says Ziteng Wang, a doctoral student at the University of Sydney, Australia and first author on the study. “Usually, polarized sources are associated with magnetic fields.” 

So therefore, the magnetic field of some sort of object is fiddlin’ around with the radio signal on its way to Earth. They say it might be something as common as a dusty debris field or “something else entirely.”

I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking it’s aliens, right?

According to reports from CNET, they’re banking on the fact that it’s most certainly not aliens. Although, they agree that it’s a mystery, for sure. The team in Australia are still working on finding an answer to the strange pulse of the Ghost, so it’s possible we’ll be hearing more about it soon.

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Matt Sterner

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