Scientists find mysterious space lights blinking every 20 minutestext_fields
A pair of stars are consistently emitting radio waves every 20 minutes and scientists cannot figure out why.
Astronomers have made an astonishing discovery of two stars exhibiting peculiar properties, leaving the scientific community intrigued and baffled. These celestial objects are emitting radio waves at regular intervals, a phenomenon unlike anything previously observed.
Typically, repeating signals in space are attributed to pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars emitting energetic beams akin to lighthouses, causing them to flicker on and off as they rotate towards and away from Earth. However, the two stars in question spin much more slowly than any known neutron star and display other unusual traits.
"We are all still quite amazed and intrigued and baffled," said astronomer Natasha Hurley-Walker of Curtin University in Bentley, Western Australia.
The mysterious blinking light was first detected in 2021 when astronomers stumbled upon a slowly repeating radio pulse in archival data from 2018. The object blinked consistently for three months before its activity waned, eventually disappearing from sight in the skies.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, the scientists posited that the object could be a rare type of magnetar and designated it GLEAM-X J162759.5-523504.3. Unlike known magnetars that emit pulses every few seconds, this peculiar star emitted pulses every 18 minutes.
To probe further into this fascinating discovery, Natasha Hurley-Walker and her team conducted observations of the night sky for three nights in June 2022 using the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia. They detected another radio flash, this time occurring every 21 minutes. Archival data suggests that this second star, named GPM J1839-10, has been exhibiting this behavior since at least 1988.
While researchers currently presume that both objects may be the same phenomenon, the reason behind one star's three-month blink and the other's ongoing 33-year flashing remains an enigma. "I don't know," confessed Hurley-Walker, "That's the problem."
The scientific community now eagerly awaits further investigations and analysis to unravel the mysteries behind these peculiar celestial phenomena.