Engineering 101

ASKAP Telescope Reveals ORCs in Space

Odd radio circles or ORCs, first revealed in 2020 by the ASKAP radio telescope, have now been brought into focus. Theories as to their cause range from galactic shockwaves to their being the throats of wormholes.

The new detailed image, captured by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s MeerKAT radio telescope and published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is narrowing down the possibilities.

Three theories include:

  • They are the remnant of a massive explosion at the center of their host galaxy, the merger of two supermassive black holes
  • Powerful jets of energetic particles spewing out of the galaxy’s center
  • The result of a starburst ‘termination shock’ from the production of stars in the galaxy

The rings are enormous – about a million light-years across, 16x bigger than our galaxy. Despite this, odd radio circles are hard to see. We’ve only found five odd radio circles in space.

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