What’s Sending These Mystery Signals From 4,000 Lightyears Away?
A mysterious repeating radio signal from space has been detected that scientists have not seen before. What or who is sending this signal?
Scientists have detected a radio signal from somewhere out in deep space some 4,000 light-years away.
The signal pulsed every 18 minutes and 18 seconds, for 30 to 60 seconds — every time, 18 minutes and 18 seconds. It did this for three months then it stopped. Scientists assume it is a naturally occurring rotating object that, like a lighthouse shining its beacon, will send what appears to be a repeating signal.
But Natasha Hurley-Walker, whose study into this repeating signal was recently published in the journal Nature told Vice, “[T]here are no models that produce such bright radio emission from two objects in orbit with each other, with such precision, and any that would produce any kind of radio waves would also produce X-ray emission, which we don’t see.”
Some think this might be coming from a highly magnetized star called a magnetar. So what does this all mean? Astronomer and Gaia News contributor Marc D’Antonio weighed in on the subject.
“Maybe this strange signal is some weird kind of magnetar that is rotating, but we’re not used to seeing it rotate every 18 minutes, that means a rather slow rotation. So, this is kind of weird, it’s something that doesn’t match any model that we know, and I think it takes us down a new research path to try to figure out just what it is we’re looking at,” D’Antonio said.
If this signal is not from some type of dead star, what else could it be?
“There is a remote chance, the far remote one, that it’s a techno-signature, maybe. Now, what’s a techno-signature? It’s a signature from something that’s intelligent that’s beaming out something,” D’Antonio said.
“Now, (with) repeating bursts like this we always err on the side of caution and say, ‘[W]ell the universe rotates, everything rotates,’ so, therefore, it could be something rotating and flashing a hot side toward us that has this signal in it like a hotspot. So it could even be something that’s a techno-signature that’s intelligent or it could be a naturally occurring strange kind of exotic star — a magnetar — something along those lines. It’s really odd, you know? Where would it come from? What is the origin of this? How does a star like this form if it’s a star from a supernova? There are really no models that show us how something like this forms. It is really perplexing, and therefore, really exciting.
What about the pulse itself, could there be data within that could be studied?
“The information inside the pulse is something that would be interesting to look at. Was it sending out something specifically? Was it sending a message saying, ‘[T]hey’re coming to you, get off your planet,’ or whatever, I don’t know,” D’Antonio said.
“But I do know that that’s something interesting and I’m sure that no one is really looking inside the pulses to examine the exact nature. Sure they are looking at the signal and what it’s doing, but the signal that’s coming is not like it’s blowing off the airwaves, it’s a very faint signal. But the strangeness isn’t how it’s pulsing, the strangeness is in why it stopped, and the strangeness is in the duration. This is all new, every 18 minutes it would pulse, and it was 18 minutes 18 seconds. That was a very strange pulsation period and as quick as it came, it was gone, and it stopped — and no one knows why it stopped.”
What does this discovery mean for the big picture future of astronomy?
“It’s these one-time things you see that are really exciting because we could be on the cusp of some other kind of discovery. Either way, we are, we are on the cusp of another discovery — either discovering a brand new natural object or discovering possibly that we’re not alone,” D’Antonio said.
Will NASA's New Telescope Discover ET Life?
The spectacular first images from the James Webb Space Telescope are finally here and they do not disappoint.
After years of planning, construction, delays, and a cost of about $10 billion, we finally have the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. Launched in December of 2021, the JWST is the largest and most powerful space telescope ever to be put in space.
Astronomers have waited a lifetime to see with such amazing clarity deep into space. JWST does this by operating in the infrared spectrum; it “sees” light that is outside the visible spectrum of our naked eye and previous telescopes like Hubble.
NASA released photos of the first five targets noting, “These first images from the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope demonstrate Webb at its full power, ready to begin its mission to unfold the infrared universe.”
We caught up with astronomer and Gaia News contributor Marc D’Antonio on the road in Arizona, to break down the images.
“I saw these images and the release of all five different images represent a different aspect of what this telescope can do — absolutely astonishing to me — from galaxies to gas clouds, this telescope hands down, has the ability to show us so much that we don’t understand.”