Researchers discover mystery radio signal origins in break room’s microwave

13 Apr 2015

A team of researchers from Parkes Observatory in Australia has accidentally stumbled across a new fast radio burst (FRB) that originated not from a distant galaxy, but from the kitchen next door.

For the last number of years, the Australian team and others across the world have been trying to determine what the source was for the mysterious radio signals that were originating close to our planet, dubbed perytons.

According to, a number of possibilities were suggested, both originating on the surface or from a meteorological source, but now in a paper published online at the Cornell University Library, the team believes it has traced its origin to the humble microwave near the monitoring device where many of the researchers no-doubt made their many ready meals in the middle of the night while trying to solve this mystery.

From their findings, they were able to replicate the emission of perytons simply by opening the microwave door while the microwave was still running with its magnetron still pumping out microwave energy.

When this was done, within a fraction of a second, this microwave activity was picked up by the reader and the ever-elusive source of the FRB peryton was finally revealed.

The team has been quick to say, however, that this does not mean that every peryton discovered will originate while scientists are making their mug of soup, but that it would be advised to rule out that a microwave might be at play first before jumping to any conclusions.

Microwave oven cooking food image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic