Perytons really are mythical creatues

Okay, so this has been going around the arXiv for a few weeks now, but there’s a pretty good case for showing the tenacity of scientists in proving themselves wrong when something just doesn’t feel quite right…

You may have heard about Perytons, which are millisecond bursts of radio signal that have been observed at the Parkes radio telescope in Austalia. The telescope was searching for something called a “fast radio burst” (yes, when you abbreviate this to FRB it it DOES sound like “furbie”), which are extremely bright bursts of radio signal coming from distance galaxies (we don’t know what they are).

While the astronomers were searchign for these radio signals they found other bursts of radio signal in their search. Unlike FRBs, these signals tended to cluster around certains times of the day. Since they were discovered a few years ago, the study of perytons has resulted in a good number of papers. However, they were named after mythical creatures, mostly because people were pretty convinced that these signals were terrestrial sources masquerading as cosmic radio bursts.

In a feat of clever detective work, the source of the perytons has been found (probably). It turns out that the perytons were mostly observed during the lunch hour at the Parkes radio telescope site. And, when you pop open a microwave oven to get your burrito a little bit before it’s completely shut down, it looks like the magnetron (which is the thing that makes the microwaves inside of your microwave oven) sends out a burst of radio noise that can (mostly) describe the perytons.

Case close for the perytons, score one for the scientists.

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