Radio Waves from Center of Milky Way Galaxy are Puzzling Astronomers

by Jonathan Howard

Our universe is full of a lot of interesting and bizarre phenomenons. Astronomers have received radio waves from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. However, these are not normal transmissions they have received.

According to a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal, these radio waves have scientists puzzled. However, they do have some theories. A team comprised of scientists from all over the world made the discovery. This was done with the help of the CSIRO radio telescope in Western Australia.

The lead author of the study, Ziteng Wang, is a Ph.D. student at the University of Sydney. A press release from Wang said that they first thought the object was a dead star called a pulsar. The star spins in space, however, the signal did not line up with that theory. Those two signals did not match up with what researchers expect from the pulsar stars.

So, they continued to theorize. Wang discussed the puzzling aspect of the signal.

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

While this seems way above my pay grade, it is very intriguing. The signal even has a name, but don’t expect to memorize it. It was named after the coordinates it came from in the Milky Way Galaxy. ASKAP J173608.2-321635. This thing is so peculiar that it started out invisible. The entire thing has baffled researchers as it appears and disappears without any rhyme or reason.

The Milky Way Galaxy Has Many Surprises

Wang’s supervisor and professor at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and the School of Physics was also taken back by the object in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Tara Murphy described the nature of the object saying, “This behaviour was extraordinary.” After detecting six radio signals over nine months, researchers are still baffled.

At first, they were unable to locate the object with visual light. They found nothing. That is when the CSIRO telescope was brought out. It helped detect the signals but failed to find the source. These signals are truly unlike anything scientists have studied before. It could mean there is a new class of stellar objects out there. If that is the case, it is quite a find.

David Kaplan, co-supervisor on the project also commented on the signals.

“The information we do have has some parallels with another emerging class of mysterious objects known as Galactic Centre Radio Transients, including one dubbed the ‘cosmic burper,” Kaplan explained. “While our new object, ASKAP J173608.2-321635, does share some properties with GCRTs there are also differences. And we don’t really understand those sources, anyway, so this adds to the mystery.”

A mystery indeed. The Milky Way Galaxy holds more secrets than we know about.