- Education and Science
The Strange Signal From Galaxy M 82
What Is Going on in Galaxy M82?
Something is going on out there in the constellation of the Big Dipper... in the (side long viewed) cigar shaped galaxy called M82 scientists have discovered an oddity that defies explanation. In May of 2009 scientists were observing a stellar explosion in the galaxy M82 using the UK's MERLIN telescope network when they observed a strong super-luminal radio signal emanating from an obscure part of the galaxy. Scientists believed it may be from a supernova explosion but when they compared supernovae observations to the signal from M82 it did not fit the model. In Supernova's the signal will be weak at first and gain power over time, then after weeks or months the signal will begin to fade. The M82 signal has been going steady and is still emitting even to this day. Gamma Ray Bursts send out radio signals but emit X-Rays with their signature, but M82's signal has no such X-Ray signature.
There is speculation that the signal could be being emmited by a blackhole in the galaxy or a micro-quasar. Blackholes produce super-luminal bar-bell like jets observed in the radio spectrum but scientists say these are produced from super-massive blackholes located in the centers of galaxies. M82's signal is located outside of the center of the galaxy so it seems this explanation is off the table. But in a star burst galaxy meaning the stars have been scattered by a near collision and the stars are going off like a pyrotechnic display because of collisions and star birth; this explanation of micro-quasars may be the best naturally occurring fit for this phenomenon.
Micro-quasars are a binary blackhole / star combo where the blackhole feeds on it's host star stripping the star of its matter. The star persists to live until one day the star is consumed by the blackhole. But don't count out the blackhole theory just yet, it is believed that M82 has had a run in with either M81 it's sister galaxy or even NGC 3077 and it is still recovering from the galactic crash. So this run in with either of these two bodies of stars could have caused the central super-massive blackhole to be spun out of it's original spot at the center of the galaxy.
Could it Be Something Else?
Some theorists believe it may actually be a sign of intelligence from another technological race based in the galaxy using super-luminal radio waves to communicate with worlds like our own. Why would they do this? It could be a call for help with their own galaxy being in such turmoil, a call for any technological race more advanced than their own for help or a warning signal for all other life forms to stay clear of M82 because of the astronomical devastation occurring in the galaxy. Scientists will continue to observe the signal and look for a possible explanation.