Scientists have uncovered a lot about our little planet, but while mysteries remain, it does not compare to the mysteries of the universe. Something weird has come up as scientists have discovered a rather bizarre radio signal coming from the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Now the word “alien” has popped up in everyone’s minds as reports circulate about this strange news.
Astronomers from the University of Sydney in Australia, led by Ph.D. student Ziteng Wang, were doing some research that was published on September 3 that detailed the alien signal that they found. The source did not fit any known description of any object identified. Currently named ASKAP J173608.2-321635 (named after the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder radio telescope in Western Australia), it has been identified six times between January and September 2020 that varied by a factor of 100. It was compared to low-mass stars, pulsars (dead stars that become extremely dense neutron stars), and neutron stars with strong magnetic fields. The new discovery did not fit anything, making it possibly something brand new.
The alien radio signal is not transmitting any regular rhythm. It also does not show up under infrared and X-Ray wavelengths, at least from the ones that were tested so far. That crosses off a low-mass star or pulsar from the list of possibilities of its true identity. Three other Galactic Center Radio Transient sources share similarities with ASKAP J173608.2-321635 as both contain highly polarized radio light with no X-ray counterpart. Due to its emission pattern and timescales, the mysterious signal distinguishes itself from anything before it. It is also blurry if the ASKAP and GCRTs have the same origin, making it harder to compare ASKAP to then identify it.
To try to find more on the alien radio signal, the team used two other telescopes from NASA, Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Not catching any signals of ASKAP J173608.2-321635 with this method furthered the complexity of the puzzle.
The alien signal is coming from what is referred to as a Galactic Center, the rotational center of the Milky Way that features a black hole right in its center. It is also known to have red giants, massive supergiant stars, and extremely hot gas. Now, we have the mysterious signal on top of all of that.
To study the Galactic Center, scientists use a combination of gamma-ray, X-ray, infrared, and radio wavelengths. Those methods are used to penetrate the cosmic dust that covers the dense star population at the center of our galaxy. The use of the Hubble Telescope has created a map of the stars. The visibility of this part of the Milky Way can only be seen from radio telescopes. During further exploration, that is when the alien signal was discovered and left scientists to scratch their heads at the puzzling discovery.
The scientists are hoping for other alien radio signals that are similar to ASKAP J173608.2-321635 to compare. Maybe with more samples, then an answer can be delivered about its origins and identity.