Paul Kuin

Astronomers are cracking one of the greatest new mysteries of the sky

Something highly unusual was picked up by the Asteroid Terrestrial Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) on June 16, 2018. The discovery of a strange flare in the sky – brightening and fading – was reported in an astronomical telegram, which then alerted scientists. The source was named AT2018cow – based on a naming convention for transient sources where the last three letters are randomly assigned. Understandably, though, scientists quickly nicknamed it “the Cow”.

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