Using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), a radio telescope in the Netherlands, the researchers discovered emission outbursts from the Tau Bootes star system, which contains a so-called hot Jupiter, a giant gaseous planet that is very close to its own sun.
The team, led by researchers from Cornell University in the United States, also observed other potential exoplanetary radio emission candidates in the constellation Cancer and Upsilon Andromedae.
However, the study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics found that only the Tau Bootes exoplanet system had a significant radio signature, a unique potential window on the planet̵
7;s magnetic field.
“We present one of the first clues to the discovery of an exoplanet in the radio field,” said Jake D. Turner, postdoctoral fellow at Cornell.
“The signal comes from the Tau Bootes system, which contains a binary star system and an exoplanet. We are in favor of an emission by the planet itself,” he said.
When this is confirmed by follow-up observations, radio frequency identification opens a new window for exoplanets and offers a novel way to study alien worlds tens of light-years away.
Observing an exoplanet’s magnetic field helps astronomers decipher a planet’s internal and atmospheric properties, as well as the physics of star-planet interactions, Turner said.
The earth’s magnetic field protects it from the dangers of solar wind and keeps the planet habitable.
“The magnetic field of Earth-like exoplanets can add to their potential habitability by protecting their own atmosphere from solar wind and cosmic rays, and protecting the planet from atmospheric loss,” said Turner.
Two years ago, Turner and his colleagues studied Jupiter’s radio emission signature and scaled those emissions to mimic the possible signatures of a distant Jupiter-like exoplanet.
These results became the template for searching for radio emissions from exoplanets 40 to 100 light years away.