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Extraterrestrial messages or microwave noodles?

Strange radio signals coming from microwaves -- not aliens


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 10:09 - For years, scientists were baffled over a series of brief and intense radio signals that appeared to be coming from deep space -- but a new study has shed some light on their surprising origin.

The signals -- called perytons -- have been reported dozens of times since the 1990s, and while they closely mimic a deep space signal, astronomers had long suspected the perytons were coming from somewhere -- or something -- near the Earth.

Emily Petroff and her team at Australia's Swinburne University of Technology installed a real-time radio interference monitor at the Parkes telescope in Australia and detected three signals right away.

Further study led them to believe the signals could be coming from a nearby microwave oven.


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The hypothesis was cemented when the team found they could recreate the perytons by opening a microwave before the timer has gone off.

“It was quite surprising that [the source] ended up being microwaves," Petroff told National Geographic.

If a microwave door is opened before the timer goes off, magnetrons -- the thing in the oven that produces microwaves --aren't given a chance to properly shut off, and the microwaves get transmitted into the atmosphere.

“Radio emission escaping from microwave ovens during the magnetron shut-down phase neatly explain all of the observed properties of the peryton signals,” the study authors write, adding the microwaves causing the radio signals likely originated from the staff kitchen and visitor's centre at Parkes Observatory. 

The complete paper can be found at the Cornell University Library (CUL).

Sources: CUL | National Geographic

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