A group of astronomers has detected unusual radio signals that come in the direction of the center of the Milky Way and do not correspond to any known pattern of radio sources, according to an article published on Tuesday in the specialized magazine Astrophysical Journal. “The strangest property of this new signal is that it has a very high polarization,” said Ziteng Wang, lead author of the paper and a student at the School of Physics at the University of Sydney in Australia.
This means, according to the article, that its light oscillates “only in one direction but that direction rotates over time.” “The brightness of the object also varies substantially, by a factor of 100, and the signal turns on and off apparently randomly.”
The technical name given to the waves is ASKAP J173608.2-321635 , and the signal was detected six times between January and September 2020 and then reappeared on February 7 of this year.
The galaxy’s center of rotation is home to a large black hole at its center , and in the region are dense clusters of huge stars that include red giants, super giants, extremely hot gases, and abundant sources of radio signals.
Many types of stars emit variable lights across the entire range of the electromagnetic spectrum , and with advances in radio astronomy the study of variable or transient objects is a vast field for investigation of the universe.
“At first we thought it could be a pulsar – a very dense, rotating type of dead star – or also a type of star that emits huge solar flares,” Wang said.
The international team, of which Wang is a part, including scientists from Australia, Spain, Germany, the United States, Canada, South Africa and France, discovered the object using the ASKAP radio telescope in eastern Australia.