This object in space flashed brilliantly for three months and then disappeared
we were all working from home. And when astronomers look for something to distract themselves from looming existential dread.
Earlier this year something that would change slowly over months to an exploded star, or a big collision in space.
I wanted to measure how the source’s brightness relates to its frequency
(in the electromagnetic spectrum).
In an observation taken 18 minutes later, there the source was again, in exactly the same place and at exactly the same frequency—like nothing astronomers had ever seen before.
This source was incredibly bright. It was outshining everything else in the observation, which is nothing to sniff at.
The brightest radio sources are supermassive black holes flaring huge jets of matter into space at nearly the speed of light.
I had detected the source across a wide range of frequencies, so the power it would take to generate it could only come from a natural source; not artificial (and not aliens)!
Our new discovery lies about 4,000 light years away—very distant, but still in our galactic backyard.