Photo credit: ICRAR
Astronomers have discovered an unusual flickering object in the Milky Way, located approximately 4,000 light-years from the Sun, that giant bursts of energy toward Earth three times an hour before disappearing several hours later. Officially called radio transients, these brief flashes of radio signals have been seen before, but have not been previously detected appearing and disappearing over a few hours. Read more for a short video and additional information.
This object was first discovered by Curtin University student Tyrone O’Doherty in a region of the Western Australian outback known as the Murchison Widefield Array, using a newly self-developed technique and telescope. Some of the non extraterrestrial theories around what the object might be include a neutron star or a white dwarf, although much of the discovery still remains a mystery.
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[It] was appearing and disappearing over a few hours during our observations. That was completely unexpected. It was kind of spooky for an astronomer because there’s nothing known in the sky that does that,” said Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker, Astrophysicist from the Curtin University node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).