Astronomers are stumped by powerful radio wave hiccups that appear to have emanated from near the center of our galaxy. Scott Hyman of Sweet Briar (Va.) College and his colleagues recently discovered the radio bursts while analyzing a survey of the Milky Way's center taken in 2002 with the Very Large Array radio telescopes near Socorro, N.M.
The team found five radio bursts, each lasting about 10 minutes and spaced 76 minutes apart, on the night of Sept. 30. The blasts were surprisingly intense, briefly rivaling the power of the radio emissions from the presumed supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center.
The bursts, which appear to have come from a source some 600 light-years from the galactic core, had never been detected be