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Astronomers Detect Radio Signal From An Outer Planet For The First Time

Radio Telescope array at night (loveguli, iStockphoto)

An international team of scientists detected for the first time a radio signal from an exoplanet . The signal from the constellation Boötes contains a binary star and an exoplanet .

The team led by postdoctoral researcher Jake D. Turner of Cornell University, Philippe Zarka of the Observatoire de Paris – University of Paris Sciences et Lettres, and Jean-Mathias Griessmeier of the Université d’Orléans found their findings Astronomy. & Astrophysics published in the research section on December 16 .

“We present one of the first hints of detecting an exoplanet in the radio frequency realm. This signal is from the Tau Boötes system, a binary star and an exoplanet. In this case it comes from the planet itself. The strength and polarization of the radio signal and the planet’s magnetic field t are consistent with theoretical predictions, ”says Turner.

“If this discovery is confirmed by ongoing observations, this radio signal could open a new door in detecting exoplanets and offer us a unique method for investigating alien worlds tens of light years away,” says Ray Jayawardhana, Turner’s postdoctoral consultant, among co-authors. .

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LOFAR Detects Hot Jupiter

Using the radio telescope LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) in the Netherlands, Turner and his colleagues revealed bursts of emission from the star system called hot Jupiter (similar to our solar system gas giant Jupiter). Also, although this team observed radio emission candidates in 55 Cancri and Upsilon Andromed a systems, none of them 51 light-years leaves a radio trace as important as in the distant Boötes exoplanet system. This opens a potential window into the planet’s magnetic field.

Observing the magnetic field of an exoplanet can be helpful in understanding the physics of star-planet interactions as well as deciphering that planet’s internal structure and atmospheric properties, says Turner.

Earth’s magnetic field makes it habitable by protecting the solar winds from its dangers. “ The magnetic fields of exoplanets like Earth could possibly contribute to life. So the atmosphere isolates it from solar winds and cosmic rays and can protect the planet against loss of atmosphere , ”says Turner.

Two years ago, Turner and his colleagues decoded Jupiter’s radio emission signal, scaling it to mimic traces of possible Jupiter-like exoplanets. These results 40 to 100 light years became the template for searching for radio emissions from distant exoplanets.

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In this way, researchers were able to find the hot Jupiter in Tau Booötes by making radio observations for up to 100 hours. “Thanks to what we learned from planet Jupiter, we learned how to make such a determination. So we started a search and found that planet, ”says Turner.

This trace is still weak, “There is some uncertainty that the detected radio signal is coming from this planet. Therefore, there is a critical need for follow-up observations, ”says Turner.

Research Reference:

J.D. Turner, P. Zarka, J.-M. Griessmeier, J. Lazio, B. Cecconi, J.-E. Enriquez, J.N. Girard, R. Jayawardhana, L. Lamy, J.D. Nichols, I. Pater. The search for radio emission from the exoplanetary systems 55 Cancri, upsilon Andromedae, and tau Boötis using LOFAR beam-formed observations . Astronomy & Astrophysics , 2020; DOI: 10.1051 / 0004-6361 / 201937201

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