The Vera C. Rubin Observatory will scan the whole southern sky every three nights. From short-lived supernovae to alien megastructures, here are some of the fleeting cosmic phenomena it could capture
24 August 2022
By Stuart Clark
IN 1967, astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell was searching the night sky for quasars, super-bright sources of light in the centre of some galaxies, when she spotted something unusual. It was a pulsing radio signal from space that seemed too regular to have a natural source. With her supervisor Antony Hewish, she half-jokingly dubbed it LGM-1 – short for little green men.
After finding more of these signals, they turned out to be coming from pulsars, dense, rapidly rotating stars that send regular bursts of energy our way. No little green men, after all. But the discovery demonstrated that astronomers need …