Scientists Finally Figure Out What Those Mysterious Radio Signals Are

( A group of scientists who published a report on January 26 describing how they experienced mysterious radio pulses coming from outer space have revealed that the signals aren’t actually coming from “little green men.”

In the report, scientists explained how the pulses were arriving every 18.18 minutes from an unknown source in space, labeled “GLEAM-X.” They explained how the period between these pulses drifts every 30,000 years, and such a long and slow drift has never been seen in normal radio pulsars before.

The first pulsar was discovered back in 1967, occurring every 1.33 seconds. It was nicknamed “LGM,” which stood for “little green men.” Over the years, though, it was revealed that pulsars are actually neutron stars that are spinning. These tiny stars are more compact than normal stars as they are the remnants of the collapse of a larger star.

In a follow-up Harvard paper published February 11, researchers suggest that the new pulsar is “most likely a hot subdwarf” star.

“A magnetic dipole model explains the observed period and period-derivative for a highly magnetized (∼ 108G), hot subdwarf of typical mass ∼ 0.5M⊙ and radius ∼ 0.3R⊙, and an age of ∼ 3×104 yr. The subdwarf spin is close to its breakup speed and its spindown luminosity is near its Eddington limit, likely as a result of accretion from a companion,
the report reads.

Scientist Avi Loeb explained further in a piece in The Hill. He said that they found that the sub-dwarf star contains “the most extreme properties that would appear naturally if it was spun up and powered by accretion of matter from a companion star.”

In simple terms, it means that the signal – while curious – wasn’t from little green man. It’s just the remnants of a collapsing star.