An international team of researchers studying the signals collected by the international network of radio telescopes LOFAR reports that some of the signals indicate the presence of exoplanets. This is the first time that exoplanets have been spotted using such radio signals. LOFAR consists of arrays of radio telescopes in various European countries.
In their publication in the journal Nature Astronomy, the researchers report that the study of signals from 19 stars indicates the presence of exoplanets in some of them. The signals come from red dwarfs, the type of star that astronomers say make up the vast majority of our galaxy and possibly the universe. The signals come from red dwarfs up to 165 light-years away. According to the researchers for four of the signals arrived the only logical explanation for their existence is that their source origin is a planet.
Studies in our solar system have shown that the planets emit powerful radio waves as their magnetic fields interact with the solar winds. It is the first time astronomers have detected radio waves that appear to come from an exoplanet and, as the researchers say, “is an important step in radio astronomy.” Researchers do not currently know the size or characteristics of these planets, if they are habitable, for example, but all the signals are similar to those emitted by Jupiter when it interacts with the solar wind. So maybe they are all gas giants.
“The results of the research could lead to new techniques for searching for planets far away from our solar system,” said Benjamin Pope, an astrophysicist specializing in the detection and study of exoplanets and a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. Until now, astronomers have used radio signals to locate exoplanets in a different way and have been limited to short distances. To date, these studies have not exceeded four light years.