Strange radio waves emitted from Milky Way’s core stump astronomers

U.S. & World

This false-color X-ray and radio frequency image made available by NASA on Friday, May 28, 2021 shows threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. X-rays detected by the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are in orange, green, blue and purple, and radio data from the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa are shown in lilac and gray. The plane of the galazy is horizontal, in the center of this vertical image. Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this, while stuck at home during the pandemic. (NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang, NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT via AP)

MILKY WAY GALAXY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Astronomers at the University of Sydney in Australia have discovered unusual signals coming from the center of the Milky Way. The source was detected six times between 2020 January and 2020 September.

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“The strangest property of this new signal is that it has a very high polarization. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time,” said Ziteng Wang, the lead author of this new study at the University of Sydney. “The brightness of the object also varies dramatically, by a factor of 100, and the signal switches on and off apparently at random. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

He explained further on that the object started out invisible, became bright, faded away, and then reappeared. A very unusual behavior that could suggest a new class of stellar object.

When the astronomers tried to find the object in visual light, they found nothing. The signal did eventually return, but they found that it’s behavior was dramatically different. It disappeared in a single day, even though it had lasted for weeks in previous observations. Mr. Wang and his team plan to keep a close eye on this object to look for more clues on what it might be.

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