Researchers at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) have discovered a mysterious object that flashes brightly in the radio range, once every 18 minutes and 18 seconds.
The object was discovered using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope in Western Australia
It was first spotted in March 2018, and scientists are constantly observing to find out its origin. But the source cannot be explained by any known object.
The spotted object is incredibly bright but smaller than our Sun
It has been dubbed GLEAM-X J162759.5-523504.3. As the received signals are highly polarized, it implies that it has a strong magnetic field around it.
Astronomers think it might be a rotational signature of an exotic dead star, perhaps a white dwarf. It could also be a highly magnetized “magnetar,” located some 4,000 light-years away or something else entirely.
“This object was appearing and disappearing over a few hours during our observations,” said Dr. Natasha Hurley-Walker, lead researcher on the study. “That was completely unexpected. It was kind of spooky for an astronomer because there’s nothing known in the sky that does that. And it’s really quite close to us – about 4,000 light-years away. It’s in our galactic backyard.”
Are aliens behind these signals?
Although repeating radio signals from deep space no doubt raises the question of aliens. But the researchers are ruling out this probability. According to scientists, the signal consists of a wide range of frequencies, which points to a natural origin.