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Four mystery objects spotted far out in space

Posted on Monday, 13 July, 2020 | Comment icon 15 comments

Space is a treasure trove of mysteries. Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 ESO / S. Brunier
Astronomers have discovered a number of peculiar ring-shaped 'islands' unlike anything ever seen before.
Known as odd radio circles (or ORCs) due to their puzzling shape, these unique anomalous objects appear circular and brighter at the edges at radio wavelengths.

Solving the mystery of what these objects are has proven particularly challenging, with astronomers struggling to even determine their distance.

In a new paper, scientists have been able to rule out several possibilities such as star-forming galaxies, supernovae and planetary nebulae (among other things), however a definitive answer to the mystery still remains elusive.

One possibility is that the objects could be the shockwaves from some sort of extragalactic event.
"[The objects] may well point to a new phenomenon that we haven't really probed yet," said Kristine Spekkens from the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen's University.

"It may also be that these are an extension of a previously known class of objects that we haven't been able to explore."

It is hoped that a new project known as the Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) - which is set to search for new objects across the cosmos - will help to solve the mystery as well as identify as many as 70 million additional radio objects that have yet to be catalogued.

Three of the ORCs were actually found during a pilot survey for the project.

"This is a really nice indication of the shape of things to come in radio astronomy in the next couple of years," Spekkens told Live Science.

Source: Live Science | Comments (15)

Tags: Space

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Peter B on 14 July, 2020, 2:46
According to this, two of the ORCs have visible galaxies at their centres. Given how big space is, that seems unlikely to be a coincidence. Plus, from the same link, the ORCs aren't visible in normal light, infra-red or X-ray wavelengths. I suspect that if they were "close" (in galactic terms) we'd see something at those wavelengths. Therefore, more likely to be a long way away. Put it this way, if I can clearly hear your voice in front of me, but can't see you or touch you or smell you, then I'm going to assume you aren't in front of me; and that what I'm hearing is your voice coming from a s... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by South Alabam on 14 July, 2020, 3:10
I'd imagine with the vastness of space, things like this won't cease to be discovered for a long time.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Tatetopa on 14 July, 2020, 3:23
Takes time to find this stuff out.  It will be OK.   Go take a look at Waspie_Dwarf's logo.  Words to live by.   "Don't Panic"   IOWKeep calm and pass the marmite.
Comment icon #9 Posted by third_eye on 14 July, 2020, 4:43
You dip in my marmite and no space rings are gonna be anywhere near calm...  ~
Comment icon #10 Posted by MissJatti on 14 July, 2020, 10:35
If they go missing, blame Homer Simpsons  
Comment icon #11 Posted by Ell on 14 July, 2020, 15:31
I agree.
Comment icon #12 Posted by DieChecker on 15 July, 2020, 23:37
Orcs? Best watch out for Sauron.  Seriously, this is very interesting. Could be a lotbof things. Like something hitting the edge of a galactic dark mater halo. Or antimatter hitting the outer edge of the galactic disc.
Comment icon #13 Posted by bison on 15 July, 2020, 23:55
It sounds like it could be a spherical wave front, caused by a brief radio wave impulse dispersed through, and interacting with the intergalactic medium. This would be rather like a three dimensional version of an ever-expanding wave on the surface a pond, after a single stone is thrown into its middle.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Wonky Bugger on 19 July, 2020, 3:53
The four horsemen?
Comment icon #15 Posted by Peter B on 19 July, 2020, 12:31
I've heard of spherical cows, but spherical horsemen of the Apocalypse...?

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