“The strangest property of this new signal is that it has a very high polarisation. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time,” he said in a news release. Study coauthor Tara Murphy, a professor at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and the School of Physics at The University of Sydney, in the release said, “Because the signal was intermittent, we observed it for 15 minutes every few weeks, hoping that we would see it again.”
“Luckily, the signal returned, but we found that the behaviour of the source was dramatically different — the source disappeared in a single day, even though it had lasted for weeks in our previous ASKAP observations,” she said.
The object was initially spotted during a survey of the sky using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder radio telescope, known as ASKAP. Follow-up observations were conducted with the the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales and South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s MeerKAT telescope. The fickle object has been named after its coordinates in the night sky: ASKAP J173608.2-321635.
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