Who knew the opening the door of a microwave oven while it was on could release something like an extragalactic fast radio burst? Astrophysicists at Parkes Observatory didn’t realize for 17 years, then someone noticed these radio bursts only happened in business hours.
Was there a consensus on perytons I wonder?
Strange ‘outer space’ signal that baffled Australian scientists turns out to be microwave oven
Scientists discover cause of signals detected at Australia’s Parkes telescope, originally believed to come from another galaxy
Scientists monitoring an Australian radio telescope have discovered that a series of strange signals which have baffled astrophysicists for 17 years were caused by the facility’s kitchen microwave being opened while in use.
The finding was made by Emily Petroff, a PhD student, who set up an interference monitor at the site to investigate the signals, known as perytons, which were thought to be from space but were also known – somewhat unusually – to be detected only during business hours.
The signals were first detected at Australia’s Parkes telescope in 1998 and were similar in frequency and duration to fast radio bursts, which are believed to come from another galaxy.
Soon after setting up the monitor, Ms Petroff in January detected three short signal bursts, whose data indicated a source similar to a microwave oven. The signals were also detected by the 210-foot telescope.
Is that magnetron a thousand light years away, or in the kitchen next door?
“Tests revealed that a peryton can be generated at 1.4 GHz when a microwave oven door is opened prematurely and the telescope is at an appropriate relative angle,” the paper says.
“Radio emission escaping from microwave ovens during the magnetron shutdown phase neatly explain all of the observed properties of the peryton signals.
Petroff et al (2015) Identifying the source of perytons at the Parkes radio telescope, arXiv:1504.02165 [astro-ph.IM]