Join Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions! Subscribe Today!

Mysterious Flashing Light from Center of Milky Way Defies Explanation

It’s the new era of UFOs, so it seems everyone is seeing flashing lights in the sky and wondering what they might be. Astronomers get paid for identifying lights in the sky beyond those Tic Tacs, flying triangles, drones and other lower atmospheric phenomenon. They recently spotted something in the middle of our own Milky Way galaxy that defies explanation, making the astronomers’ version of UFO – an unidentified ‘flashing’ object.

“We report the discovery of a highly-polarized, highly-variable, steep-spectrum radio source, ASKAP J173608.2-321635, located ∼4\,deg from the Galactic center in the Galactic plane.”

 

“We discuss possible identifications for ASKAP J173608.2-321635 including a low-mass star/substellar object with extremely low infrared luminosity, a pulsar with scatter-broadened pulses, a transient magnetar, or a Galactic Center Radio Transient: none of these fully explains the observations, which suggests that ASKAP J173608.2-321635 may represent part of a new class of objects being discovered through radio imaging surveys.”

Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (Credit: CSIRO)

In a new paper accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and available on preprint server arXiv, Ziteng Wang of the University of Sydney and a team of astronomers describe the discovery of ASKAP J173608.2-321635 using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), a radio telescope array in Western Australia consisting of 36 identical parabolic antennas working together as a single astronomical interferometer, making it superior to other telescopes with an increased field of view, fast survey speed and high sensitivity. First seen in April 2019, the mysterious signal close to the galactic center appeared in data 13 times between then and August 2020. After that, some other telescopes confirmed its existence. However, others couldn’t detect it. So, what is the mysterious ASKAP J173608.2-321635?

“We discuss possible identifications for ASKAP J173608.2-321635 including a low-mass star/substellar object with extremely low infrared luminosity, a pulsar with scatter-broadened pulses, a transient magnetar, or a Galactic Center Radio Transient: none of these fully explains the observations, which suggests that ASKAP J173608.2-321635 may represent part of a new class of objects being discovered through radio imaging surveys.”

“A new class of objects.” Not a holy grail but certainly a significant discovery. The study points out that X-ray binaries, gamma-ray bursts and supernovae have been ruled out, but the galactic center does have some other mysterious objects, such as three Galactic Center Radio Transients (GCRT) which have also defied explanation. Since ASKAP J173608.2-321635 flashes at irregular intervals, the team suspects it will find other similar signals using this data. Hopefully, they will explain if and how they’re related to the galactic plane and “ultimately help us infer its nature.”

So many mysterious light flashes — so few explanations.

Aliens? Neither the study nor the press release or any other reports suggest there’s intelligence behind ASKAP J173608.2-321635 … but none say there isn’t either. For now, we’ll wait for more astronomers, more telescopes and more signals.

It’s certainly a great time to be interested in astronomy, isn’t it?

Tags

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
You can follow Paul on and