The object, first spotted by a student working on his undergraduate thesis, produces strong electromagnetic radiation three times per hour.
The waves are emitted every 18 minutes, explains astrophysicist Natasha Hurley-Walker, who observed the phenomenon using a giant low-frequency radio telescope in the Australian Outback.
Although there are other objects in the Universe that emit regular radio variations, such as pulsars, this frequency has never been observed before, she says.
The discovery of this object was
a bit scary, she adds,
because there is nothing known in heaven that does this.
The team established that the object is about 4,000 light-years from Earth, incredibly bright, and has an extremely strong magnetic field.
But many mysteries remain to be unraveled.minutes. It just shouldn’t be possible”,”text”:”If you do all the math, you find that it shouldn’t have enough power to produce those kind of radio waves every 20 minutes. That just shouldn’t be possible”}}”>If you do all the math, you find that it shouldn’t have enough power to produce that kind of radio waves every 20 minutes. It just shouldn’t be possible, Mr. Hurley-Walker said.
It could be an ultralong-period magnetar, a phenomenon theorized by researchers but never yet observed, or a white dwarf, an aging star with a surface temperature twice that of the sun. .
But it’s also quite unusual, underlines the astrophysicist.
We know of only one white dwarf pulsar, and nothing as important as this one. Of course, it could be something we never thought of. It could be an entirely new item type, she says.
The research team was able to observe the signal over a wide range of frequencies.
This means it must be a natural process, it is not an artificial signal., assured the scientist when asked if this powerful and coherent radio signal from space could have been sent by another form of life.
The next step for researchers is to search for more of these strange objects in the Universe.
Further detections will tell astronomers whether this is a rare one-time event or a large new population we’ve never noticed before., Mr. Hurley-Walker said.