The MeerKAT radio telescope, located in the remote Karoo desert in South Africa, has detected a mysterious radio signal from the constellation Ara, and could reveal a completely new type of star system, or something else.
Radio telescopes do not show an enlarged version of what we would see with the naked eye, but an image of invisible radio broadcasts. It ends up being a group of white spots accompanied by a series of data for astronomers to interpret, so there is much room for error.
Extraterrestrial Signals Received By MeerKAT
MeerKAT astronomers observed a strange flash of radio emission over the course of three weeks. This was MeerKAT’s first discovery of a so-called “transient source”, an object that varies in brightness over a period of time. Other observations of the signal, nicknamed “MKT J170456.2-482100”, from other telescopes revealed that it was a binary star system, a system where two stars orbit each other. According to experts, that is not so rare since astronomers understand binary star systems well. But what makes this system strange is that it does not fit into any of the known types of binary star systems.
One of the stars has already been well documented by astronomers for the past 18 years. TYC 8332-2529-1 is about 1,800 light-years from Earth. The observations of the Great South African Telescope (SALT) show that this star has a magnetic field and orbits a much weaker mysterious companion star every 21 days. It is this mysterious companion that has baffled investigators.
Many binary star systems have a white dwarf as one of their halves. However, the mysterious companion star is much larger than most white dwarfs, approximately 1.5 times the mass of our Sun. The strange radio signals could be explained by a giant star that closely orbits with a star similar to Sun.
However, the spectral analysis of the strange companion star offers no evidence that it is actually a sun-like star. So what is it? Nobody knows yet.
Ben Stapper, one of the researchers who is trying to decipher the mystery, suggests that this may be evidence of a completely new type of binary star system. It can be composed of a giant star that orbits a neutron star. Or it could be that the giant star is orbiting a black hole.
MeerKAT will continue to monitor the mysterious radio source every four weeks in the future. Scientists hope that the continuous monitoring of this star system will clear doubts about this mysterious signal. And although the most plausible theory is that it is a completely new type of star system, there are scientists who have a different opinion. An expert from Harvard University suggested that these types of signals detected by telescopes on Earth could be evidence of advanced extraterrestrial technology. Israeli physicist Avi Loeb, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, suggested that some radio signals from other constellations could be the energy generated by “interstellar light sails.” of extraterrestrial spacecraft the size of 20 land cruises. He even went further and said that a solar energy transmitter on a planet twice the size of the Earth could generate the necessary energy.
Whatever the truth about this mysterious signal, results like these offer even more evidence that the cosmos is much bigger and weirder than we can imagine.
What do you think about this new radio signal? Can it be a completely new type of star system? Or is it a message sent by an extraterrestrial civilization?