Researchers have discovered that ultra-low radio frequencies emanate from a jellyfish-shaped object into a distant galaxy cluster. According to ScienceNews, the mysterious object is located in the galaxy cluster Abel 2877 with 340 million illuminations from Earth.
Researchers behind a study published in the Astrophysical Journal say they used the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in Western Australia to discover very low-low radio frequencies – and their distinctive shapes. “We looked at the data, and as the frequency declined, we saw that ghostly jelly-fish-like structures began to emerge.” Terence Hudson, lead author and PhD candidate from Radio Astronomy Research at the International Center for Perth, said in a press release.
Researchers have dubbed the “USS Jellyfish” object – but do not rush to assume it is a Star Trek node. “USS” actually refers to its “ultra-steep-spectral” radio frequency.
As you can imagine, studying 340 million light-distance radio frequencies presents its own special challenges. “We had to take some cosmic archeology to understand the ancient background story of jellyfish,” Hodgson said in a press release.
However, they have been able to come up with a workable theory of where they came from supermassive black holes that formed “powerful jets of plasma” about two billion years ago. “This plasma has faded, calmed down, and is dormant,” Hudson said. “Then two things happened recently – the plasma started to mix at the same time as the very gentle shock wave went through the system. It briefly revived the plasma by illuminating the jellyfish and its tents for us to see.
I hope that since construction of the new Square Kilometer Array (SKA) began, we will not have to wait until researchers discover more about cosmic jellyfish.
The researchers speculated that the radio telescope would give us a better view of the object. “SKA will be thousands of times more sensitive and will have much better resolution than MWA, so many more mysterious radio jellyfish could be discovered after its operation,” said Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, co-author of the study, and Hudson’s supervisor, in a news release.
Radio telescope researchers will look at some of the first galaxies to emerge in the universe. It would be great, though, if they discovered any cosmic sharks or whales to join the USS jellyfish in our space aquarium.