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Object Discovered In The Milky Way Is ‘Unlike Anything Astronomers Have Ever Seen’ 

Australian scientists and researchers have discovered a strange object spinning in the Milky Way, which they claim to be unlike anything astronomers have ever seen before. 

The object was first discovered by a university student who was working on his undergraduate thesis. The initial discovery showed that the object releases a huge burst of radio energy three times every hour. 

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“The pulse comes every 18.18 minutes, like clockwork,” said astrophysicist Natasha Hurley-Walker, who led the investigation after the student’s discovery, using a telescope in the Western Australian outback known as the Murchison Widefield Array.

Pulsars are an example of other objects in the universe that are known for switching on and off when they release energy, however, Hurley-Walker states that 18.18 minutes is a frequency that has never been recorded before. 

“Finding this object was kind of spooky for an astronomer because there’s nothing known in the sky that does that.” 

The research team is currently working on understanding what exactly it is that they discovered. As they continued to compile and observe data, they came to the conclusion that the object is about 4,000 light-years away from Earth, is incredibly bright, and has an incredibly strong magnetic field. 

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“If you do all of the mathematics, you find that they shouldn’t have enough power to produce these kinds of radio waves every 20 minutes. It just shouldn’t be possible,” Hurley-Walker said.

The object could potentially be something known as an “ultra-long period magnetar,” which researchers have only theorized about existing in the past. It could also be a white dwarf, which would make it a remnant of a collapsed star. 

“But that’s quite unusual as well. We only know of one white dwarf pulsar, and nothing as great as this,” Hurley-Walker said.

“Of course, it could be something that we’ve never even thought of—it could be some entirely new type of object.”

“I was concerned that it was aliens. But the research team was able to observe the signal across a wide range of frequencies. That means it must be a natural process, this is not an artificial signal. More detections will tell astronomers whether this was a rare one-off event or a vast new population we’d never noticed before,” Hurley-Walker said.

The team’s paper on the object has been published in the latest edition of the journal Nature.

Milky Way

Scientists Have Discovered a Hypervelocity Star Heading Out Of The Milky Way

A star has been seen making its way out of the Milky Way at a speed of 3.7 million miles per hour, the equivalent of 1056 miles per second or ten times faster than the majority of the stars in the Milky Way, including the sun. However it is widely believed it will take a further 100 million years before it actually makes its way out of the Milky Way and will then spend eternity roaming around intergalactic space.

Hypervelocity stars were discovered by astronomers in 2005 although numbers are still low, with fewer than 30 found in the last 14 years. Named S5-HVS1, the star has made its way to the constellation of Grus, which is at a distance of just over 29,000 light-years.

University of Oxford astronomer Dr. Douglas Boubert confirmed that the S5-HVS1’s velocity is so high it will ‘inevitably leave the Galaxy and never return,’ while Carnegie Mellon University researcher Dr. Sergey Koposov exclaimed ‘this is super exciting, as we have long suspected that black holes can eject stars with very high velocities’.

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It is the first time a black hole has thrown a star out of the galaxy since the act was predicted 30 years ago via the Hills mechanism suggested by astronomer Jack Hills, and Dr. Ting Li from Carnegie Observatories and Princeton University was quick to confirm that ‘seeing this star really is amazing as we know it must have formed in the galactic center, a place very different to our local environment.’

The Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey (S5) are responsible for the discovery thanks to the data collected from a 3.9-m Anglo-Australian Telescope alongside ESA’s Gaia satellite. The astronomers were then able to understand the star’s journey out of the Milky Way’s center.

S5’s main goal scientifically is to probe the stellar streams, however they were able to provide some of their resources to look around the Milky Way to see if there was anything interesting. Using this technique they were able to discover the star and Lowell Observatory’s Dr. Kyler Kuehn is hopeful they will ‘find even more’.

The team’s paper was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Space

Scientists Explore Presence Of ‘Galactic Tunnels’ Linking One Side Of The Universe To The Other

Wormholes have been a firm favourite in the land of science fiction for decades, but now, scientists are exploring the real possibility that wormholes do in fact exist. Their attention is directed specifically toward the Milky Way galaxy, which could hold the secrets to discovering one such portal.

Anyone who is a fan of sci-fi will appreciate the fascination with wormholes. In the 2014 movie Interstellar, a team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival. And for over 6 years in Star Trek Deep Space Nine, the Federation space station Deep Space Nine guarded the opening of a stable wormhole to the far side of the galaxy. All exciting stuff, but not steeped in reality. 

The first discussions surrounding real wormholes emerged as part of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and in its simplest terms, provides a shortcut between two far away points in space. Einstein’s theory supports the presence of wormholes as it allows for spacetime to curve, providing opportunities for time and space to bend and thus, manipulate the distance between the two points. 

Wormholes have been at the heart of hypotheses by theoretical physicists since the 1930s, where they were initially called white holes. White holes are the exact opposite of black holes in that they emit energy but do not allow anything to enter. The name was eventually changed to ‘Einstein-Rosen bridges’, but as this wasn’t a particularly catchy name, they became better known as wormholes. 

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Sadly, proving such a theory has so far been beyond the means of scientists here on earth, and no such examples have been found in space. However, now researchers at New York’s University of Buffalo have indicated that the answer may lie within our own Milky Way. 

Fresh attention has centered on Sagittarius A*, a huge black hole that is over four million times bigger than the sun.  Given its immense size, scientists have theorized that they may be able to determine the presence of a wormhole by analyzing the gravitational effects on the stars surrounding it and comparing this to historical data to highlight any anomalies.

Cosmologist Dejan Stojkovic of the University at Buffalo was quoted in the Daily Express as saying “If you have two stars, one on each side of the wormhole, the star on our side should feel the gravitational influence of the star that’s on the other side. The gravitational flux will go through the wormhole. So if you map the expected orbit of a star around Sagittarius A*, you should see deviations from that orbit if there is a wormhole there with a star on the other side.”

Scientists plan to sift through over 25 years of data in order to identify any anomalies in the orbit of these stars which could indicate the presence of a wormhole. However even if evidence is found, it still won’t be out and out proof that wormholes exist. Mr. Stojkovic clearly points out that whilst it might prove a probable explanation, we still possess an extremely limited knowledge and understanding of space, its properties and its capabilities, meaning that there could well be some other explanation that we simply don’t know about.

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Wormhole concept 

And for all of those space fans who are getting their hopes up about travelling through these wormholes, it looks like there is further disappointment. Mr. Stojkovic explains that even if wormholes are proven to exist, and are traversable, they would need to be stable and kept open with negative energy. Unfortunately, that is not within our scientific capabilities just yet. 

Roman Konoplya, a RUDN physicist agrees with this and earlier this year was quoted as saying “For wormholes to be traversable and not to collapse because of gravitational effects, the repulsion force in the bottleneck of a wormhole should be extremely high. Some preliminary studies of foreign colleagues seemed to indicate the possibility of such stability. However, we confirmed that a wormhole according to Einstein’s theory with quantum corrections is critically unstable. Evidently, an unstable system cannot exist in nature as any reaction with the environment would cause it to disintegrate. Mathematically, it is expressed in unlimited growth of initially neglected minor system deviation from statistical balance. Unfortunately, these results mean that we still don’t have a theoretically consistent wormhole model without exotic assumptions.”

Further sad news comes from Daniel Jafferis, from Harvard University who earlier this year revealed that that real life wormholes were unlikely to gather the speeds seen in science fiction movies. He was quoted as saying “It takes longer to get through these wormholes than to go directly, so they are not very useful for space travel.”

So whilst the argument for wormholes continues to look promising, it may be a long while before we’ll be using them for human space travel!