How did it turn out that the source of the mysterious radio signal 'Peruton' was a microwave oven?



The Parkes Observatory in Australia is a radio observatory with a 64 m aperture radio telescope as its core, and conducts observations of the high-speed radio burst (FRB) electromagnetic pulses arriving from space. Such a strange radio signal ' Peryton ' is also detected in such a parks observatory, but what was the cause of the radio signal generated for many years was a mystery. Emily Petroff, who studies astrophysics at Swinburne Institute of Technology , has compiled a background on how it was determined that the cause of the occurrence of such Pleuton was 'microwave'.

How we found the source of the mystery signals at The Dish

High-speed radio bursts were first detected in 2007, and as a result of careful analysis of the data in 2001, it was found that high-speed radio bursts were observed six years later. From this, at the time, it was expected that another high-speed radio burst might be discovered by investigating other old data sets.

Sarah Burke Spolaor, a doctoral student at the Swinburne Institute of Technology, surveyed old datasets as part of his research and looked for high-speed radio burst observations. As a result, although the high-speed radio burst which was the original purpose was not found, it is said that a strange radio signal was discovered. This mysterious radio signal will be named 'Peruton'.

Although Pellutton had a wavelength similar to that of high-speed radio bursts, it was confirmed that it was a radio signal that was generated on earth, not in space. Burke Spolaor et al.'S team tried to find out why peluton was generated, but in the data from 1998 to 2002, only 11 have been observed. It was not easy to find out the cause.


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Burke Spolaor and others in the 2011 paper suggested that the cause of Peryton might be due to explosion phenomena such as lightning and solar flare, and the weather on the earth, but no definitive connection could be found That's right. On the other hand, in the paper submitted in 2012, it is pointed out that the cause of Pelutton is human.

Curiously, although discovery of high-speed radio bursts has been increasing between 2011 and 2014, no Pelliton was observed during that period. However, in January 2015, three perutons were suddenly observed. At the time, the Pertuston was discovered within a day of its outbreak, as the data processing technology had already been significantly advanced at the Parkes Observatory at that time. So Petroff and his colleagues at the Parkes Observatory have determined the cause of Pelutton.


Tamsin Slater

The staff at the Parkes Observatory testified that there were no suspicious events when Pellton was observed. However, RFI monitors that detect radio interference around the Parkes Observatory, which was installed in December 2014, revealed that radio waves with a frequency of 2.5 GHz were emitted around the Parkes Observatory when Pelutton was observed.

The 2.5 GHz frequency originates from many household appliances, among which the most famous is the microwave oven. So Petroff and others tested using a microwave oven to see if Pelutton could be observed, but the first test did not observe the occurrence of Pelutton.

However, on March 17, 2015, about two months after the first discovery, the door of the room with the microwave oven was kept open unlike usual, and a straight line from the microwave oven to the observatory receiver was maintained It turns out that Pelutton is observed when the range is operated. In this way, the cause of the occurrence of Pellutton, which had been a mystery for many years, was identified. It may not be an interesting result for many media seeking “spacemen” and “mystery of the universe”, but Petroff says he is satisfied with the discovery of this scientific cause.

by Ben Babcock

in Hardware,   Science, Posted by log1h_ik