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Mysterious odd Radio Circles in Space

Astronomy’s newest mystery objects⁠—odd Radio Circles, have been pulled into sharp focus by an international team of astronomers using the world’s most capable radio telescopes. When first revealed in 2020 by the ASKAP radio telescope, owned and operated by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, odd Radio Circles quickly became objects of fascination.

Theories on what causes them ranged from galactic shockwaves to the throats of wormholes.A new detailed image by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s MeerKAT radio telescope and published today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is providing researchers with more information to help narrow down those theories.

Dr. Jordan Collier of the Inter-University Institute for Data-Intensive Astronomy, who compiled the image from MeerKAT data, said observing these odd Radio Circles will provide researchers with more clues. People want to explain their observations and show that it aligns with our best knowledge. To me, it’s much more exciting to discover something new that defies our current understanding.

The rings are enormous—about a million light-years across, 16 times bigger than our galaxy. Despite this, odd Radio Circles are hard to see. Professor Ray Norris from Western Sydney University and CSIRO, one of the authors on the paper, said only five odd Radio Circles have ever been revealed in space. Professor Elaine Sadler, Chief Scientist of CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility, which includes ASKAP, said that for now, ASKAP and MeerKAT are working together to find and describe these objects quickly and efficiently.

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