If something has become clear in recent years, it is that we are largely ignorant of what happens outside the Earth (also within it). Millionaires embody a battle to reach the Moon, Mars, and the ends of the galaxy, but there are countless unknowns. Such is the case with new and mysterious radio signals coming from the center of the Milky Way.
The technical name for the waves is ASKAP J173608.2-321635. Scientists have not yet determined what they could be. The signals were detected six times between January and September 2020, and they later returned on Feb. 7 of this year.
In a study on the signals, which has not yet been published in The Astrophysical Journal, but can be consulted on the arXiv server, the researchers explain that it is “a highly-polarized, highly-variable, steep-spectrum radio source.”
“ASKAP J173608.2-321635 may represent part of a new class of objects being discovered through radio imaging surveys,” the authors wrote.
How Did They Discover the Signals?
Thanks to the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP)—a radio telescope. A set of 36 antennas of 12 meters (39 feet) in diameter that function as one and are one of the most sensitive in the world. ASKAP is designed to analyze cosmic magnetism, identify black holes, and explore the origin of galaxies.
The signal is unknown, several types of stars have been ruled out. But it does share some properties with the Galactic Center Radio Transients (GCRT), another mysterious signal discovered in 2000, which is also emitted from the center of the Milky Way.
To find out what it is, researchers need to observe radio signals longer. In this way, certain patterns that have not been seen before may be established. That “Will help us understand how truly unique ASKAP J173608.2−321635 is and whether it is related to the galactic plane, which should ultimately help us deduce its nature.”