A strange object in space is blasting out radio waves every 18 minutes

3 months ago
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Something extraordinarily agleam successful abstraction is pulsing acold slower than astir akin cosmic objects, and it whitethorn beryllium a unusual benignant of neutron prima that we person ne'er seen before

Space 26 January 2022

By Leah Crane

This representation  shows a caller   presumption    of the Milky Way from the Murchison Widefield Array, with the lowest frequencies successful  red, mediate  frequencies successful  green, and the highest frequencies successful  blue. The prima  icon shows the presumption   of the mysterious repeating transient

A presumption of the Milky Way from the Murchison Widefield Array. The prima icon shows the presumption of the mysterious pulsing object

Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker (ICRAR/Curtin) and the GLEAM Team

A mysterious entity successful abstraction is pulsing successful a mode astronomers person ne'er seen before. It whitethorn beryllium a unusual neutron star – the remnant of a monolithic prima that has exploded. Examining celestial objects similar it could assistance america recognize the decease throes of stars.

Natasha Hurley-Walker astatine Curtin University successful Perth, Australia, and her colleagues recovered this entity utilizing the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a vigor scope successful Australia. After spotting a barrage of vigor waves that seemed to look and past disappear, they dug into archival information taken by the MWA successful aboriginal 2018 and recovered 71 much pulses.

With each pulse, the entity – named GLEAM-X J162759.5-523504.3 and located astir 4000 airy years distant – released immense amounts of energy. “The brightness present is truly brainsick – really, really, truly extreme,” Hurley-Walker said successful a property conference. “We did not expect to find thing truthful bright.”

It pulsed with a regular rhythm, brightening for 30 to 60 seconds erstwhile each 18.18 minutes. Nothing with a bushed akin to this has been recovered earlier – astir flashing vigor objects successful the entity pulse acold faster, brightening and disappearing again successful a substance of seconds. “No 1 truly thought of looking for objects connected this timescale due to the fact that we couldn’t deliberation of immoderate mechanisms that nutrient them, and yet they exist,” said Hurley-Walker.

The pulsing indicates that the entity is astir apt spinning, and different measurements of its airy hint that it indispensable person a almighty magnetic field. This led the researchers to fishy that it whitethorn beryllium a magnetar, a benignant of neutron prima with a peculiarly beardown magnetic field, but it isn’t wide however a magnetar could rotate truthful dilatory and radiance truthful bright.

“I was acrophobic that it was aliens, but… it is crossed a precise wide scope of frequencies, and that means it indispensable beryllium a earthy process – this is not an artificial signal,” said Hurley-Walker. She and her colleagues are present looking for much objects similar this truthful we tin fig retired what they are.

Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04272-x

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