What is the news?
A study by an international collaboration of astronomers (VASCO project) has identified an occurrence of nine stars like objects that appeared and vanished in a small region within half an hour in an old photographic plate.
- Astronomers collaborating across countries track vanishing and appearing celestial objects by comparing old images of the night sky with new, register unnatural phenomena. It facilitates a probe into such phenomena to record changes in the universe.
- Such a group of objects appearing and disappearing at the same time has been detected for the first time in the history of astronomy.
- The astronomers have not found any explanation in well-established astrophysical phenomena like gravitational lensing, fast radio bursts, or any variable star that could be responsible for this cluster of fast changes in the sky.
- The astronomers who belong to the collaboration Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations (VASCO) have still not sorted out the root cause of the “nine simultaneous transients”.
- The study used Gran Telescopio Canarias (the largest optical telescope around the world) at Canary Islands, Spain,
The primary goal of the “Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations” (VASCO) project is to search for vanishing and appearing sources using existing survey data to find examples of exceptional astrophysical transients.
- The implications of finding such objects extend from traditional astrophysics fields to the more exotic searches for evidence of technologically advanced civilizations.
- The project aims at finding astrophysically interesting mismatches between historical sky surveys.
Note: The term ‘transients’ is used to refer to events that last for a limited amount of time e.g., compared to a human lifetime, such a change in the appearance of an object, perhaps temporary. Some are over in seconds, some produce results lasting weeks, months, or years, and some repeat. Supernova, Fast Radio Bursts, Gamma Ray Bursts are some examples.