Australian researchers have discovered a strange rotating object within the Milky Way that does not resemble any known celestial body before. The facility was first noticed by a student who was collecting materials for his BA thesis. The mysterious object sends regular short radio signals (FRB). These signals are sent three times per hour, every 18.18 minutes.
The signal was received at many frequencies, which means that its emission is a "natural process"
The research on the object is led by astrophysicist Natasha Hurley-Walker. It is monitored by a radio telescope located in Western Australia (the so-called Murchison Widefield Array MWA).
Hurley-Walker admits that the discovery of the object was "a little spooky" for astronomers because "they've never seen anything like this before."
For now, it is known that the facility is located approx. 4 thousand. light years from Earth, it is very bright and has a very strong magnetic field.
Hurley-Walker notes, however, that calculations show that the object "should not have enough energy to send out radio waves every 20 minutes." "It shouldn't be possible," he says.
The object may be a white dwarf (a remnant of an extinct star) or a type of neutron star that has been thought to exist only hypothetically so far.
Of course, it may be something we haven't thought about before. Some new kind of celestial body, Hurley-Walker points out. When asked if the signal could be sent by some alien life form, Hurley-Walker said it was not initially ruled out. However, as she added the signal was received at many frequencies, which means that its emission is a "natural process".
Now researchers want to look for other such objects in space. The publication about the discovery appeared in the "Nature" magazine.