For nearly 17 years astronomers at Parkes Observatory in Australia searched for the reason why radio interference took place during experiments and observations. They discovered early this year that the interference was coming from a microwave oven in the observatory’s kitchen.
Parkes Observatory houses one of the best-known radio telescopes in the country. It is used to measure radio signals for signs of extraterrestrial life.
Astronomers thought the interference, which began in 1988, was due to lightning strikes.
“The radio signals, called perytons, were reasonably local, say within 5km of the telescope and appeared only once or twice a year. They were believed to be from lightning strikes. That changed when a new receiver installed at the site measured radio signals at 2.4 GHz, the same frequency as a microwave oven,” Simon Johnston, head of astrophysics at the CSIRO, told The Guardian.
The scientists opened the door to the microwave before it finished heating food and pinpointed it was the cause of interference.
“If you set it to heat and pull it open to have a look, it generates interference,” Johnston said.
This discovery was published in a scientific paper.