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“I think it’s real,” Curtin University student Tyrone O’Doherty told his supervisors when he spotted the anomaly.

And it was real, as it turns out. The object beaming out from space was also “spooky”, and “in our galactic backyard”.

An Australian team studying the universe’s radio waves has discovered a new type of beam that comes and goes, one of the brightest radio sources in the sky. The details of the discovery were published in Nature on Thursday.

When something in space switches on and off it’s called a “transient”. It might come from a pulsar, which flashes on and off in milliseconds or seconds. Or a supernova that might appear for a few days before disappearing again.

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The Morrison government has tipped an extra $2bn into the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif) with critics concerned the funds could be spent supporting fossil fuel projects.

The northern Australia minister, David Littleproud, when announcing the $2bn cash injection on Tuesday did not rule out Naif using it for the development of the Beetaloo gas basin.

The Greens and the Australia Institute have called for rule changes to prevent the Naif being used for fossil fuel projects. Labor has criticised the fund’s track record of having spent less than 10% of its initial $5bn but has not supported changing the rules.

Littleproud said $3.2bn had already been committed to projects and the extra $2bn would continue investment “across all sectors, from mining and agriculture to renewable energy, education and tourism”.

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