Thanks to the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), the most powerful radio telescope in the world, a team of scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia has discovered 19 distant red dwarf stars, four of which are emitting unexpected radio waves. The best explanation for this is that there are “hidden” exoplanets. Although it still needs confirmation, the discovery is of great importance for radio astronomy, and may also help in the search for other worlds in the Milky Way.
Initially, radio astronomers identified only very close stars using radio waves, but now they can visualize very old stars and look for possible planets in their orbits. So, for the study, the researchers focused on red dwarfs, stars smaller than the Sun, and the magnetic activity that gives off these emissions. The study’s lead author, Joseph Collingham, believes that the identified signal comes from the magnetic connection between the stars and the planets that orbit them.
This interaction is similar to that that occurs between Jupiter and its moon Io. “Our model for this radio emission from stars is a miniaturized version of Jupiter and Io, in which a planet is enveloped in a star’s magnetic field and releases material in giant streams that fuel equally bright aurorae,” they tell. Author.
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The team has not yet confirmed the existence of the proposed planets, and is cautious: “We cannot be absolutely sure that the four stars we found are actually planets orbiting them, but we can say That a planet-star interaction is the best explanation for what we are seeing,” explained Dr Benjamin Pope, an astrophysicist at the University of Queensland and co-author of the study.
He also highlighted the possibilities offered by Loafer: “We now have a new window into the sky, thanks to the power of Loafer and the techniques of wearing polarized glasses. This opens up a realm of possibilities for the future,” he said. So far, they have only been able to see a fraction of the sky with binoculars. SKA Observatory working, they expect hundreds of great discoveries.
The article with the results of the study was published in Revista Nature Astronomy.
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