Strange ‘outer space’ signal turns out to be microwave oven

Posted: May 5, 2015 by oldbrew in Astronomy, humour
Not this time [credit:]

Not this time [credit:]

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.

Full report: Strange 'outer space' signal that baffled Australian scientists turns out to be microwave oven – Telegraph.

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘impatient researchers opening the microwave door prematurely’

    Probably rushing back to work in case the aliens wanted to make contact again 😉

  2. […] Strange ‘outer space’ signal turns out to be microwave oven | Tallbloke’s Talkshop. […]

  3. ivan says:

    Something doesn’t seem quite right with that. You have a radio telescope that is designed as a dish concentrator and is very sensitive and you have what I must assume are offices in which all types of electronic equipment is used. Logic points to the office block being shielded so the computers and other miscellaneous electronic equipment does not contaminate the signals reaching the telescope.

    As for it happening only during office hours, what part of the sky is exposed at that time?

  4. 8364khz says:

    Yes, I found this a little strange. There are side lobes and back lobes associated with radio telescopes but surely the office hours thing is a dead giveaway. I feel sure that this is not the first time that domestic equipment has caused confusion.

  5. Truthseeker says:

    17 years … what brand of microwave oven was it?

  6. michael hart says:

    Well, I’ll never get tired of posting this link everyt ime it seems on topic.

  7. tom0mason says:

    Wow, have they caught the alien yet?

    The alien (disguised as a researcher) that uses the microwave oven during office hours?

  8. Graeme No.3 says:

    I think the scientists did well, discarding their previous theory when a junior overturned the settled science. When it explained what was happening much better than their previous idea, it was adopted and the public informed.
    Compare that with climate “scientists” who would have covered it up until they could put it into their models, and claim they knew about it all the time.

  9. tallbloke says:

    Looks like the entire planet is a microwave oven…

  10. oldbrew says:

    Fifteen scientists wrote a paper about it – the PDF is free.


  11. Ben Vorlich says:

    It took 17 years to find? I guess the research grant finally came to an end.

    [reply] that was one expensive microwave 😎

  12. But of course! And thinking about it, it was always was odd that the “aliens” only transmitted during Earth office hours…

  13. Alan Poirier says:

    Incredibly those Aussie scientists may have accidentally discovered why the earth is warming. 🙂