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Astronomers have detected a 'strange' signal but have no idea of ​​its origin

© NASA, ESA, CSA, Dani Player (STScI)

Space is often perceived by the general public as a black and silent vastness. But in reality our Universe is much more alive and noisy than we might believe. Every day, scientists receive dozens of different signals. If the vast majority of them are known and explained, a minority remains inexplicable, fueling the most outlandish theories.

This is the case of ASKAP J1935+2148, behind this more than barbaric name hides a frequency which repeats every 53.8 minutes. It was first captured by the ASKAP radio telescope in Australia, giving it its name.

Although the origin of this signal is still unknown, we now know a little more about how it works. Indeed, the signal is repetitive, generally a symbol of a revolution (of a star or a black hole for example). But as it comes back towards us, the signal changes, it evolves in three distinct phases before returning to its starting point. A unique characteristic, which questions a large number of scientists.

A neutron star, a bit special?

The scientific community is nevertheless not without a response to this signal. Such a precise repeat of an emission usually comes from a neutron star. A white dwarf star could also emit in this way, but that would already be a little more surprising.

The only point that raises so many questions are these three distinct phases of emissions. In general, a neutron star emits at one point, then it's radio silence until the next revolution. However, this is not what is happening in this case.

For scientists, these abnormal oscillations could be explained by a powerful magnetic field or jets of chaotic plasma around the star. A singular behavior that is rarely found on this type of star.

A white dwarf ?

The other popular theory among scientists today is that this signal is the signature of a white dwarf. This small star (as large as the Earth) is known to rotate much more slowly than a neutron star.

It would explain this revolution in 53 minutes. A recent scientific article defends this idea, it was published in the prestigious journal Nature Astronomy but it only puts forward hypotheses and its author, M . Caleb, a physicist at the University of Sydney, recognizes that his explanation is currently only a conjecture.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116