Astronomers Spot Strange Space Object, Have No Idea What It Is

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Jennifer Leman

July 10, 2020, 1:03 PM

From Popular Mechanics

  • Astronomers may have discovered a new type of cosmic object.
  • The strange objects are only visible in radio wavelengths.
  • The international team posted their findings, which have not been peer-reviewed yet, to the preprint server arXiv and have submitted the paper to Nature Astronomy.

An international team of astronomers claims to have discovered a new type of celestial object.

Scientists first spotted the objects, which they’ve dubbed “Odd Radio Circles” (ORCs), in the heaps of data that were collected during a preliminary survey by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder’s Evolutionary Map of the Universe project, reports Live Science. The ORCs are mostly circular (one is shaped like a disc) and three of them are brighter around the edges.

The mysterious objects can only be spotted with radio telescopes. They’re completely invisible to X-ray, optical and infrared telescopes. What’s more, they “do not seem to correspond to any known type of object,” the researchers write in their paper, which was published on the preprint website, arXiv.

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Photo credit: Norris et. al, 2020
Photo credit: Norris et. al, 2020

“Circular features are well-known in radio astronomical images, and usually represent a spherical object such as a supernova remnant, a planetary nebula, a circumstellar shell, or a face-on disc such as a protoplanetary disc or a star-forming galaxy,” the researchers write.

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