NIEE 139 – Scientists Embarrassed When Space Mystery Solved

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Recently, some researchers in Australia were excited about messages from a distant galaxy. But it turns out that the signals were from a completely different source.

The scientists at Parkes Observatory in Australia specialize in radio bursts- short pulses that last only fractions of a second and come from distant galaxies. In January of 2015, the scientists started getting repeated strange signals from an unknown source. “It was a puzzle,” said John Sarkissian, a researcher at the observatory.

The mysterious signals had the space scientists scratching their heads. So with some new highly sensitive instruments, they began to investigate. And what they found was very close to home—the signal was coming from a microwave in the kitchen of the observatory.

It appears that when someone opens the door of the microwave while it is still running, it emits a short pulse that is detectable by the radio telescope at the observatory.

The microwave has since been banned from the kitchen.