‘The strangest property of this new signal is that it is has a very high polarisation. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time,’ said Ziteng Wang, lead author of the new study and a PhD student in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.
‘The brightness of the object also varies dramatically, by a factor of 100, and the signal switches on and off apparently at random. We’ve never seen anything like it.’
¨We´ve never seen anything like this,¨ said Mr. Wang, member of an international team made up of scienticts from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, Germany, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Spain and France.
During the study, scientists have been surveying the sky using the CSIRO´s ASKAP radio telescope in Western Australia to find unusual new objects with a project known as Variables and Slow Transients (VAST), throughout 2020 and 2021. Follow-up observations were with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s MeerKAT telescope.
The scientists plan to keep a close eye on the object to look for more clues as to what it might be. ‘We expect the power of this telescope will help us solve mysteries such as this latest discovery, but it will also open vast new swathes of the cosmos to exploration in the radio spectrum.’