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Friday, July 12, 2024

Australian Scientists Discover Unknown “Spooky” Spinning Object in the Milky Way

The theories that are being proposed about to what the object is include a 'neutron star' or a 'white dwarf'

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Ekaterina Mouromtseva
Ekaterina Mouromtseva
Behavioural and Social Sciences student covering France, Spain and Russia

AUSTRALIA: An unknown spinning object has been discovered in the Milky way by the Australian scientists that appears to be nothing that has been seen before. 

The object has been observed to release a large amount of energy for a whole minute every 18 minutes. Usually, objects that burst energy are documented, but researchers have stated that one that turns on for more than a minute is unusual. 

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Australian astronomers’ discovery

The object was first seen by Curtain University Honors student Tyrone Doherty in the region of Western Australian outback referred to as Murchison Widefield Array. The discovery was made using a telescope and a new technique that he had created. 

Tyrone Doherty was part of a team led by astrophysicist Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker from the Curtain University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)

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She stated that “[It] was appearing and disappearing over a few hours during our observations”. Adding that 18.18 minutes for it to be switching on and off is a frequency that has never been observed before.

Objects that are turning on and off are not new in the realm of astrophysics. Astronomers call them ‘transients’. 

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However, for an object to be turned on for a full minute was “really weird”, ICRAR-Curtin astrophysicist Dr. Gemma Anderson, was quoted saying in the release. 

“That was completely unexpected. It was kind of spooky for an astronomer because there’s nothing known in the sky that does that,” she said.

The International Centre also added that after going back through years of data, the team was able to conclude that the object is about 4000 light years from Earth. They also established that it is astonishingly bright and has an extremely strong magnetic field. 

The theories that are being proposed about to what the object is include a ‘neutron star’ or a ‘white dwarf’. A white dwarf is the terminology used for the remnants of a collapsed star. However, much of the discovery remains a mystery. 

One mystery for example is that it shouldn’t be possible for the object to switch on every 18.18 minutes for a full minute. She stated that, “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”.

Therefore, another proposal is that it could be something that has been theorised for a long time but never observed. Such as a “ultra-long period magnetar”.

One theory that has been ruled out is aliens. The research team was able to observe the signal across a wide range of frequencies. This meant that it must be a natural process, this is not an artificial signal. 

There will be “more detections” that will be necessary to establish whether or not this was a rare one-off event or a vast new population we’d never noticed before. Dr Hurley-Walker has stated that she is looking forward to understanding this objecting and then extending the search to find more.

Also Read: Black Hole: The Most Intriguing Paradox in Astronomy


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