Mysterious Blinking Light in Space Baffles Scientists for 35 Years

Mysterious Blinking Light in Space Baffles Scientists for 35 Years

 

Since its discovery in 1988, the enigmatic object known as GPM J1839-10 has been exhibiting a peculiar behavior, blinking every 21 minutes, leaving scientists puzzled about its true nature. Flashing lights in outer space are not uncommon, often attributed to pulsars or magnetars. However, this particular light does not conform to any known patterns.

Pulsars, neutron stars with rapid spins and strong magnetic fields, emit radio beams at their poles, resulting in consistent pulses as they rotate. The fastest pulsars exhibit millisecond pulses, while the slowest register about one pulse per minute. Magnetars, another type of neutron star, are known for producing intermittent fast radio bursts, both within and beyond our galaxy, but their bursts are typically limited in duration.

The third hypothesis involves a magnetized white dwarf, the remnants of a dead star that has depleted its nuclear fuel. Unlike neutron stars, white dwarfs can rotate at speeds that might account for the 21-minute pulses. However, no instances of bright radio beams originating from white dwarfs have been observed before.

Despite the lack of a definitive explanation, scientists are reluctant to dismiss any of these possibilities. “This remarkable object challenges our understanding of neutron stars and magnetars, which are some of the most exotic and extreme objects in the Universe,” remarked lead author Natasha Hurley-Walker, an astronomer involved in the study.

The discovery of this blinking light, situated 15,000 light-years away, has intrigued researchers since their investigation began in January 2022. Initially, they encountered a “long-period” magnetar, prompting them to search for similar phenomena, leading to the unexpected encounter with GPM J1839-10. Astonishingly, records of its blinking go back 35 years.

The long-lasting radio bursts from GPM J1839-10, five times lengthier than those from the original magnetar, defy conventional explanations. “Assuming it’s a magnetar, it shouldn’t be possible for this object to produce radio waves,” expressed Hurley-Walker. “But we’re seeing them.”

Despite the mysteries surrounding the object, Hurley-Walker and her research team remain committed to studying the blinking light. They plan to meticulously scrutinize decades of data in hopes of discovering similar occurrences that may hold the key to unlocking this captivating celestial enigma. Read more

Leave a Comment