An international team of astronomers led by Dr. Joseph Callingham of Leiden University has used the world’s most powerful radio antenna to record mysterious radio waves emanating from distant star systems. These signals may indicate the existence of hidden planets.
The work of astronomers is published in the journal Nature Astronomy, and a summary of it is presented on the website of the University of Queensland. Experts from the Dutch national observatory ASTRON took part in the study. Together with Australian colleagues, he searched for planets using the world’s most powerful Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope. By the way, it is located in the Netherlands and is able to track stars that are relatively close, at a distance of up to 165 light years.
“We recorded signals from 19 red dwarfs,” says co-author Dr. Benjamin Pope of the University of Queensland. “The origin of the four signals is most reliably explained by the existence of planets orbiting these stars. because their magnetic fields interact with the solar wind. But radio signals from planets outside our solar system have not yet been detected. “
According to him, therefore, the discovery made is an important step for radio astronomy and could potentially lead to the discovery of previously unknown and still hidden from observation planets. The expert does not hide that the equipment played a decisive role in the study. Previously, astronomers could detect only the stars closest to us and only with stable radio emission.
However, new instruments allow us to observe distant ancient stars, and the information received about them is usually enough to find the planets around them. Astronomers hope that the hidden planets will be found in the near future based on the captured signals.
Let us clarify that the red dwarfs, which have become the subject of study, are significantly inferior in their parameters to our Sun. Most of them have intense magnetic activity, which causes stellar flares and powerful radio emission. However, in four cases, the stars turned out to be so old that their magnetic activity was almost reduced to zero. Despite this, astronomers received signals from their side.
These results have challenged the generally accepted concept of stellar systems. This is how the hypothesis was born that the captured signals come from the magnetic connection of stars and invisible planets. In our solar system, for example, a similar magnetic interaction has been recorded between Jupiter and its moon Io.
“There are auroras on Earth that also emit powerful radio waves – this is due to the interaction of the planet’s magnetic field with the solar wind,” explains lead author Dr. Joseph Callingham. Io’s moon propels material into space, filling Jupiter’s environment with particles that cause unusually powerful auroras. “
Based on knowledge of Jupiter, astronomers have developed a model for the radio emission of distant stars. In fact, they have an enlarged version of the system of interaction between Jupiter and Io. Only instead of a satellite, this model shows a hidden planet enveloped in a star’s magnetic field. The action of this mechanism is similar to that which causes the aurora. As astronomers say, this spectacle is so bright that it can be clearly seen even at a great distance.
“Of course, we cannot be 100 percent sure that these four stars really are the masters of the hidden planets, but we can definitely say that the interaction of such planets and stars is the best explanation of what we see,” the doctor concludes. Pope.