While mapping radio waves in the Universe, a team discovered something unusual that releases a giant burst of energy 3x an hour—and it’s unlike anything astronomers have seen before. They think it might be a neutron star or a white dwarf—collapsed cores of stars—with an ultra-powerful magnetic field. The strange object sends out a beam of radiation that crosses our line of sight, and for a minute in every twenty, is one of the brightest radio sources in the sky.
Approximately 4000 lightyears away, it’s in our backyard.
The mysterious object is incredibly bright and smaller than the Sun, emitting highly-polarized radio waves—suggesting a powerful magnetic field. Dr. Hurley-Walker said the observations match a predicted astrophysical object called an ‘ultra-long period magnetar.’
The discovery was published as ‘A radio transient with unusually slow periodic emission’ in Nature on January 27, 2022.