LOFAR telescope provides scientists with new ways to study exoplanets

Scientists have been using low-frequency array (LOFAR) radio telescopes to study an abnormal radio wave emitted by a red dwarf star called GJ1151. Scientists say radio waves are characterized by aurora, which is caused by the interaction between stars and their planets. The team noted that scientists had predicted the presence of such radio waves for more than three decades, but this was the first time such a signal had been detected.

Scientists studying the data collected say it is a new way to find exoplanets in habitable areas of the parent star. Red dwarfs are the richest stars in the Milky Way, smaller and cooler than the sun. Planets may be closer to stars than Earth and are still in habitable zones. Red dwarfs have a stronger magnetic field than our sun, which can cause a planet in the habitable zone to experience intense magnetic activity. This activity heats the planet and erodes its atmosphere. Radio transmission related to this process is one of the few tools that scientists must measure.

The magnetic field will provide energy for the radio emission of the aurora and stars. Our sun’s magnetic field is much weaker and its distance from the planets is much greater, which means that there is no similar current in the solar system. In our solar system, Jupiter and its moon, Io, do produce similar bright radio emissions.

Because the team is familiar with Jupiter’s interactions with Io, they were able to apply decades of solar observations from Jupiter to GJ1151 and its planets. The team is now focusing on finding similar radiation from other stars.

LOFAR telescope provides scientists with new ways to study exoplanets