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A team of scientists using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope in the Netherlands has observed radio waves that carry the distinct signatures of aurorae, caused by the interaction between a star's magnetic field and a planet in orbit around it.

 

Radio emission from a star-planet interaction has been long predicted, but this is the first time astronomers have been able to detect and decipher these signals. The discovery paves the way for a novel and unique way to probe the environment around exoplanets -- planets that orbit stars in other solar systems -- and to determine their habitability.

 

Notably, follow-up observations with the HARPS-N telescope in Spain ruled out the alternate possibility that the interacting companion is another star as opposed to an exoplanet.

 

The work appears in articles in Nature Astronomy and Astrophysical Journal Letters (ApJL).

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Category: Science