Sydney: An international team of astronomers have discovered unusual signals coming from the direction of the Milky Way's centre for the first time. The radio waves fit no currently understood pattern of variable radio source and could suggest a new class of planet, said the team from Australia, US, Germany, Canada, South Africa, Spain, and France.
The astronomers first thought it could be a pulsar — a very dense type of spinning dead star — or else a type of star that emits huge solar flares, but the signals did not match these types of celestial objects. Using the CSIRO's ASKAP radio telescope, the team found ASKAP J173608.2-321635, and followed-up with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory's MeerKAT telescope.
"This object was unique in that it started out invisible, became bright, faded away and then reappeared. This behaviour was extraordinary," Professor Tara Murphy, from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and the School of Physics. The findings are published in the Astrophysical Journal. The team first detected six radio signals from the source over nine months in 2020. The scientists plan to keep a close eye on the object to look for more clues as to what it might be.
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