Daily Telegraph report:
Scientists monitoring an Australian radio telescope have discovered that a series of strange signals which have baffled astrophysicists for 17 years were caused by the facility’s kitchen microwave being opened while in use.
The finding was made by Emily Petroff, a PhD student, who set up an interference monitor at the site to investigate the signals, known as perytons, which were thought to be from space but were also known – somewhat unusually – to be detected only during business hours.
The signals were first detected at Australia’s Parkes telescope in 1998 and were similar in frequency and duration to fast radio bursts, which are believed to come from another galaxy.
Soon after setting up the monitor, Ms Petroff in January detected three short signal bursts, whose data indicated a source similar to a microwave oven. The signals were also detected by the 210-foot telescope.
Ms Petroff and a team of scientists then went to examine the microwave in the facility’s kitchen and discovered that opening it while it was in use could trigger the reception of the perytons.
The mystery was solved: the signals came from impatient researchers opening the microwave door prematurely.