MWA Telescope Spots a Mysterious Object in Space, Leaves Astronomers Scratching Their Head

1st February, 2022.      //   General Interest, Space Travel  // 
MWA Telescope Spots a Mysterious Object in Space, Leaves Astronomers Scratching Their Head

Astronomers scanning the cosmic melee for radio waves recently spotted a “strange object” that gives off regular bursts of energy. Experts from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) noticed that this object lets out powerful burst three times per hour. Astronomers theorized that this object might be an ultra-long period magnetar. They called the discovery “spooky” and completely “unexpected.”

According to lead researcher Natasha Hurley-Walker, “This object 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, and it’s really quite close to us – about 4,000 light-years away. It’s in our galactic backyard,” per Digital Trends.

Astronomers ended up concluding that this might be a long period magnetar.

Note, however, that while its concept exists, researchers have yet to discover one until now.

Hurley-Walker emphasized a magnetar is a “slowly spinning neutron star that has been predicted to exist theoretically. But nobody expected to directly detect one like this because we didn’t expect them to be so bright. Somehow it’s converting magnetic energy to radio waves much more effectively than anything we’ve seen before.”

The magnetar pulses radiation that comes across a wide range of frequencies.

Unfortunately, there is not enough observational data to understand what made these signals.

Researchers noted that studying the magnetar can help them learn more about quantum mechanics and general relativity. Its data might also prove useful in the future.

It is worth mentioning that the object was discovered by Tyrone O’Doherty, a Curtin University honors student supervised by Hurley-Walker. They discovered the magnetar thru the use of a Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope in Western Australia. Hurley-Walker encouraged other astronomers situated in the southern hemisphere to observe the phenomenon through powerful telescopes.

She pointed out that more observations from different corners of the world can help them decide whether this magnetar is a one-off phenomenon or a lasting one.

According to Echo, the strange object is officially called GLEAM-XJ162759.5-523504, which is one of the brightest radio sources in the galaxy.

On a different topic, space fans might be interested in SpaceX mission to launch an Italian satellite. This was unfortunately delayed multiple times due to weather conditions. The flight was originally scheduled last Thursday, Jan. 20. However, the bad weather continued to extend over the weekends, which forced SpaceX to change its schedules and plans. For reference, the important cargo that SpaceX is carrying is officially called the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation 2.

This is a satellite capable of providing high-resolution images that can help operators map topographical features, provide security intelligence, search for resources, track shipping, and monitor disasters, forests and agriculture.


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