Something Weird Sends Radio Waves from the Heart of the Galaxy


NKRIKU, Jakarta – Strange radio waves keep coming to Earth periodically from the center of the galaxy and scientists are not sure what kind of source they are emitting. The waves come as a random pulsating on and off, with sources that may be unlike anything scientists have ever imagined.

Meanwhile, the source of radio wave radiation is limited to being referred to as ‘Andy’s Object’. The name was given by Ziteng Wang, a researcher with the alias Andy Wang, from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Wang and his colleagues discovered the emission of these waves six times over the course of 2020 using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder radio telescope. They then carried out follow-up observations with the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa and reported their results in The Astrophysical Journal, published October 12, 2021.

Wang and his colleagues found lighted objects periodically, which could last for several weeks, but more often it was dark. When he was found to light up again last February, or months after the first detection, Wang et al aimed some of the most powerful non-radio telescopes in existence, but were unable to detect anything.

“We’ve looked at every different wavelength we could do, everything from infrared to visible light and X-rays, and we didn’t see anything,” said David Kaplan of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, part of Wang’s team.

The fact that this object is invisible at every wavelength used dispels some speculative explanations about the object. These include the notion that the object is a normal star and a magnetar or neutron star with a very strong magnetic field.

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Aerial photo of the world’s largest radio telescope FAST in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, China, September 25, 2016.[imaginechina via lonelyplanet.com]

Whatever the form of Object Andy, the polarization of the radio waves coming from him indicates that he has a strong magnetic field. When lit, the brightness varies by a factor of 100. Then, the flame fades at an unusually fast—maybe within a day—which leads to the idea that the object is small.

But, the problem is, none of the known stars and other astronomical objects in the galaxy fit such a character. “It may be part of the object class that we are already familiar with, but it will push the boundaries of how we think the object class behaves,” said Kaplan.

NEW SCIENTIST, ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL

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