Weird celestial object stumps scientists

Rick Moran
Taking a short break from politics, this is the weirdest space news I've ever read.

Having been an enthusiastic amateur space nut since I was a kid, the question "What's out there" has fascinated me for many years. In a serious, scientific paper published in Astrophysical Journal, one of the most respected scientific journals in the world, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope saw an object far away suddenly appear and then, just as mysteriously, disappear right before their eyes:

This is exactly why we send astronauts to risk their life to service Hubble: in a paper published last week in the Astrophysical Journal, scientists detail the discovery of a new unidentified object in the middle of nowhere. I don't know about you, but when a research paper conclusion says "We suggest that the transient may be one of a new class" I get a chill of oooh-aaahness down my spine. Especially when after a hundred days of observation, it disappeared from the sky with no explanation. Get your tinfoil hats out, because it gets even weirder.



The object also appeared out of nowhere. It just wasn't there before. In fact, they don't even know where it is exactly located because it didn't behave like anything they know. Apparently, it can't be closer than 130 light-years but it can be as far as 11 billion light-years away. It's not in any known galaxy either. And they have ruled out a supernova too. It's something that they have never encountered before. In other words: they don't have a single clue about where or what the heck this thing is.


The scientists can't discover how far away it is because there is no parallax measurement they can take what with the star being visible for only 100 days. And since the brightness of the object varied, they couldn't use any standard measurement for that either.

More weird stuff:

The shape of the light curve is inconsistent with microlensing. In addition to being inconsistent with all known supernova types, is not matched to any spectrum in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey database.

The only thing the astronomers—working on the Supernova Cosmology Project—can tell is that it appeared all of the sudden in the direction of a cluster with the catchy name of CL 1432.5+3332.8, about 8.2 billion light-years away. Hubble caught a spark that continued to brighten during a 100-day period, peaking at the 21st magnitude, only to fade away in the same period of time.


Microlensing would tell the scientists if the object were extremely far away, having its light bent by intervening stars and galaxies. And since the object did not behave like any supernova (an exploding star) ever seen, they have ruled out that possibility.

Something up there came to life, flared, and died in just 100 days -- less than a micro second in cosmological measurements of time.

As Mr. Spock would say: "Fascinating..."
Taking a short break from politics, this is the weirdest space news I've ever read.

Having been an enthusiastic amateur space nut since I was a kid, the question "What's out there" has fascinated me for many years. In a serious, scientific paper published in Astrophysical Journal, one of the most respected scientific journals in the world, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope saw an object far away suddenly appear and then, just as mysteriously, disappear right before their eyes:

This is exactly why we send astronauts to risk their life to service Hubble: in a paper published last week in the Astrophysical Journal, scientists detail the discovery of a new unidentified object in the middle of nowhere. I don't know about you, but when a research paper conclusion says "We suggest that the transient may be one of a new class" I get a chill of oooh-aaahness down my spine. Especially when after a hundred days of observation, it disappeared from the sky with no explanation. Get your tinfoil hats out, because it gets even weirder.



The object also appeared out of nowhere. It just wasn't there before. In fact, they don't even know where it is exactly located because it didn't behave like anything they know. Apparently, it can't be closer than 130 light-years but it can be as far as 11 billion light-years away. It's not in any known galaxy either. And they have ruled out a supernova too. It's something that they have never encountered before. In other words: they don't have a single clue about where or what the heck this thing is.


The scientists can't discover how far away it is because there is no parallax measurement they can take what with the star being visible for only 100 days. And since the brightness of the object varied, they couldn't use any standard measurement for that either.

More weird stuff:

The shape of the light curve is inconsistent with microlensing. In addition to being inconsistent with all known supernova types, is not matched to any spectrum in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey database.

The only thing the astronomers—working on the Supernova Cosmology Project—can tell is that it appeared all of the sudden in the direction of a cluster with the catchy name of CL 1432.5+3332.8, about 8.2 billion light-years away. Hubble caught a spark that continued to brighten during a 100-day period, peaking at the 21st magnitude, only to fade away in the same period of time.


Microlensing would tell the scientists if the object were extremely far away, having its light bent by intervening stars and galaxies. And since the object did not behave like any supernova (an exploding star) ever seen, they have ruled out that possibility.

Something up there came to life, flared, and died in just 100 days -- less than a micro second in cosmological measurements of time.

As Mr. Spock would say: "Fascinating..."