Science & Tech

Scientists have discovered a radio signal inside an ancient star cluster

Scientists have discovered a radio signal inside an ancient star cluster
Watch: NASA unveils stunning images of ‘Christmas tree-like cluster’ of stars and …
Times of India - English / VideoElephant

Scientists have created the most sensitive radio image to date and uncovered a radio signal in an ancient star cluster.

The cluster, known as 47 Tucanae, is "very old, giant balls of stars that we see around the Milky Way" that represent signs of the early universe.

The star cluster can be seen with the naked eye and is the first documented and dates back to the 1700s.

It took astronomers over 450 hours of research and observations on the CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) to create the image.

Dr Bahramian, from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Australia, said: "They're incredibly dense, with tens of thousands to millions of stars packed together in a sphere.

"Our image is of 47 Tucanae, one of the most massive globular clusters in the galaxy. It has over a million stars and a very bright, very dense core."

Radio waves from celestial objects such as planets and stars travel through space just like light, and radio telescopes can intercept them.

Astronomers can often convert signals into pictures, creating radio images.

Speaking about the two possible reasons for the detection of the signal, lead author Dr Alessandro Paduano said: "The first is that 47 Tucanae could contain a black hole with a mass somewhere between the supermassive black holes found in the centres of galaxies and the stellar black holes created by collapsed stars.

"While intermediate-mass black holes are thought to exist in globular clusters, there hasn’t been a clear detection of one yet.

"If this signal turns out to be a black hole, it would be a highly significant discovery and the first ever radio detection of one inside a cluster."

The second explanation is that there's a pulsar, a rotating neutron star that emits radio waves.

"A pulsar this close to a cluster centre is also a scientifically interesting discovery, as it could be used to search for a central black hole that is yet to be detected," Dr Paduano said.

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