Scientists are puzzled by unknown radio signals coming from the direction of the Milky Way’s centre. Several signals have been received in the past year but astronomers have been unable to find the source. It is now believed it suggests a new class of stellar object, meaning a newly formed star or planet.
An international team of scientists used a specialised telescope known as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in Western Australia to research the object emitting the radio signals. And a study published in the Astrophysical Journal on Sunday has revealed its findings.
“We have been surveying the sky with ASKAP to find unusual new objects … throughout 2020 and 2021,” said Tara Murphy, a professor at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and the School of Physics.
“Looking towards the centre of the galaxy, we found ASKAP J173608.2-321635, named after its coordinates. This object was unique in that it started out invisible, became bright, faded away and then reappeared. This behaviour was extraordinary.”
Astronomers routinely study radio waves from space objects to unlock secrets of the universe, such as flaring stars, pulsars – a very dense type of spinning dead star – and fast radio bursts.
Researchers with the study also used the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa to observe the radio signals every 15 minutes every few weeks and found its behaviour to be dramatically different than any other space object.