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Mysterious radio signals originating from distant stars could hint at possible hidden planets

In an important discovery, scientists have found radio waves emitted from distant stars, possibly indicating the existence of hidden planets. The discovery was made by the world’s most powerful radio telescope, the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), which is located in the Netherlands.

Dr Benjamin Pope of the University of Queensland, and his colleagues from the Dutch national observatory ASTRON, have discovered signals from up to 19 dwarf stars, four of which can best be explained by the existence of planets orbiting the stars. the the research was published In the diary Nature astronomy Recently.

Illustration of aligned planets. The closest the eight planets will come to aligning will be May 6, 2492. Image Credit: StarWalk

According to Pope, the research “could potentially lead to the discovery of planets throughout the galaxy.” He added that while it had long been known that the planets in our solar system could emit powerful radio waves because their magnetic fields interacted with solar winds, radio signals from outside the solar system had yet to be captured. .

In his research, the team focused on red dwarf stars, which are much smaller than the sun. These stars are known to have intense magnetic activity, generating radio emissions and stellar flares. Some old, magnetically inactive stars also appeared.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Joseph Callingham of ASTRON and the University of Leiden, said the researchers are confident that the signals come from the magnetic connection between dwarf stars and hidden planets in their orbit. He said the interaction was similar to that between Jupiter and its moon, Io, “with a planet engulfed in a star’s magnetic field, feeding material into vast currents that equally fuel bright auroras.”

The team now seeks to confirm the existence of the hidden planets, adding that while follow-up observations have ruled out that the planets are larger than Earth, the smaller planets are likely orbiting the stars. .

Previously, astronauts could detect the closest stars only in constant radio emissions. Now radio astronomers can see plain old stars and use the information to find the planets that surround the stars.

The LOFAR telescope can only monitor stars that are relatively close or up to 165 light years away. The team predicts that they could see much greater distances after Australia and South Africa’s Square Kilometer Array radio telescope is completed and goes live in 2029.

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