Thanks to the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), the world’s most powerful radio telescope, a team of scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia has discovered 19 distant red dwarf stars, four of which emit unexpected radio waves. The best explanation for this is that there are “hidden” exoplanets. Although it still needs to be confirmed, this discovery is of great importance to radio astronomy itself, and could also help discover other worlds across the galaxy.
Initially, radio astronomers identified only very nearby stars using radio waves, but they can now visualize older stars and search for potential planets in their orbits. So, for the study, the researchers focused on red dwarfs, which are stars smaller than the Sun and have magnetic activity that releases these emissions. Joseph Callingham, the study’s lead author, believes that the specific signals come from the magnetic connection between the stars and the planets that orbit them.
This interaction is similar to the interaction between Jupiter and its moon Io. “Our model for this radio-stellar version is a gradient version of Jupiter and Io, in which a planet is enveloped in the star’s magnetic field and releases material in massive currents that similarly fuel the bright aurora,” the authors explain.
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The team has yet to confirm the existence of the proposed planets, and it cautions: “We can’t be completely sure that the four stars we’ve found actually have planets orbiting them, but we can say that the interaction between stars and planets is best explained by Dr. Benjamin Pope, a physicist University of Queensland astronomer and study co-author, explaining what we’re seeing.
He also highlighted the possibilities that Lofar offers: “We now have a new window into the sky thanks to the power of Lofar and his techniques on how to wear polarized glasses. This opens up a field of possibilities for the future,” he said. So far, they have only been able to observe a fraction of the sky with a telescope. When SK . Observatory It works, and they expect hundreds of great discoveries.
The article with the results of the study was published in revista astronomy nature.
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