According to Australian astronomers, a weird spinning object in the Milky Way has been identified that is unlike anything astronomers have ever seen. The object, which was first discovered by a university student working on his undergraduate thesis, emits a massive burst of radio waves three times each hour.
The pulse occurs every 18.18 minutes, like clockwork,” according to astrophysicist Natasha Hurley-Walker, who headed the inquiry after the student was discovered using the Murchison Widefield Array telescope in Western Australia’s outback. While other things in the universe, such as pulsars, flicker on and off, Hurley-Walker claims that the frequency of 18.18 minutes has never been detected previously.
Discovering this object was “kind of spooky for an astronomer,” Walker said. She added: “because there’s nothing known in the sky that does that.”
The scientific community is now trying to figure out what they’ve discovered. They were able to establish a few facts after sorting through years of data: the object is around 4,000 light-years from Earth, is extraordinarily bright, and has a very strong magnetic field. But there are still a lot of puzzles to solve.
“If you do all of the mathematics, you find that they shouldn’t have enough power to produce these kind of radio waves every 20 minutes. It just shouldn’t be possible. But that’s quite unusual as well. We only know of one white dwarf pulsar, and nothing as great as this. Of course, it could be something that we’ve never even thought of—it could be some entirely new type of object.”
“I was concerned that it was aliens,” Hurley-Walker admitted when asked if the powerful, steady radio signal from space could have been sent by any other life form.