A group of astronomers looking for “faint signs of heat” from long-dead stars has found, instead, a booming sound of unknown origin.
Of course, sound waves can’t travel in a vacuum (which is what most of space is), or at least they can’t very efficiently. But radio waves can.
Radio waves are not sound waves, but they are still electromagnetic waves, situated on the low-frequency end of the light spectrum.
Many objects in the universe, including stars and quasars, emit radio waves. Even our home galaxy, the Milky Way, emits a static hiss (first detected in 1931 by physicist Karl Jansky). Other galaxies also send out a background radio hiss.
But the newly detected signal, described here today at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, is far louder than astronomers expected.
About six times louder, apparently.
Detailed analysis of the signal ruled out primordial stars or any known radio sources, including gas in the outermost halo of our own galaxy.
Other radio galaxies also can’t account for the noise – there just aren’t enough of them.
Via Boing Boing.
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