LOFAR Offers a New Method for the Observation of a Distant Exoplanet

A team of astronomers harnessed the power of LOFAR (Low-Frequency Array) and traced unusual radio waves that were generated by a nearby star known under the name of GJ1151. The team learned that the radio waves carry the signature of aurorae, which are caused by the interaction between a star and its exoplanet.

While a radio emission produced by the interaction between a star and a planet has been anticipated for more than 30 years, the discovery has marked an important milestone.

The new method, which offers the ability to identify a specific signature, works only if powerful radio telescopes are used. It is thought that it could be used to collect a significant amount of information related to exoplanets found in the habitable zone and the nearby environment.

Scientists developed a new method to explore a distant exoplanet by using LOFAR

It is well-known that red dwarfs are present in abundance within the Milky Way, but this type of star is considerably smaller and cooler in comparison to the Sun. This means that a habitable planet should be substantially closer to its star. At the same time, a red dwarf generates a powerful magnetic field that exposes nearby planets to a significant amount of powerful magnetic activities.

In time the intense magnetic field can increase the heat level on the planet and compromise the atmosphere. Researchers have compared the movement of an exoplanet through the magnetic field of a red dwarf to that of a dynamo in an electric engine. A powerful current will produce aurorae and radio emissions on the stars.

The low-intensity magnetic field that is generated by the sun does not lead to the appearance of similar currents within the solar system. Yet, it is essential to note that Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, interacts with the magnetic field of the planet, causing powerful radio emissions. More data can be found in an article published in a scientific journal.

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