File this one under “probably not aliens, but you never know”.
A team of Australian astronomers has discovered a mysterious radio signal of unknown origin, saying it needs further investigation to determine its source.
The bright and compact radio signal, bearing the designation J054149.24–641813.7, was discovered by a team led by Joel Balzan of the University of Western Sydney in Australia, a press release reveals.
Radio sources are typically emitted from pulsars, nebulae, quasars, and radio galaxies, although some radio sources over the years have been anomalous and unattributed, leading to theories that they may have originated from extraterrestrial civilizations smart.
One of the prime examples is the Wow! Signal, which was recently investigated by an amateur astronomer Alberto Caballerowho believes he has identified his source to a Sun-like star 1,800 light-years from Earth.
The Western Sydney University researchers, who described their findings in a paper published in the preprint server arXiv, did not suggest that extraterrestrials were the source of J054149.24–641813.7. However, they eliminated some common radio sources from the contention and said more observations were needed to help uncover the origins of the mysterious signal.
A cosmic outlier 60 million light-years from Earth
The team discovered the radio source by observing the galaxy NGC 2082 using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) and the Parkes radio telescope. They identified a strong radio source 20 arc seconds from the center of the galaxy. NGC 2082 is located approximately 60 million light-years from Earth.
In their paper, the scientists revealed that the radio luminosity of J054149.24–641813.7 at 888 MHz is at a level of 129 EW/Hz and has a flat radio spectral index (about 0.02). This, they explained, means the radio source is likely not a supernova remnant (SNR) or pulsar and suggests it could be of thermal origin.
They also pointed to the compact nature of the radio source and its location relative to its galaxy, stating that it draws comparisons to certain fast radio bursts (FRBs).
The most likely possibility, the researchers explained, is that J054149.24–641813.7 is an extragalactic background source, such as a quasi-stellar object (QSO, quasar), radio galaxy, or active galactic nucleus (AGN). . However, more data are needed to confirm their hypothesis.