In an astronomical precedent that occurs for the first time, the most powerful antenna in the world has detected signals from 19 distant stars, suggesting the presence of “hidden planets” orbiting around them.
The exciting signals come from dwarf stars about 165 light-years from Earth, and according to a team from the University of Queensland in Australia, “the best explanation is the presence of planets around them.”
This is the first time astronomers have been able to detect radio waves likely from an exoplanet, the team said, describing their detection as an “important step for radio astronomy.”
The planets of the solar system emit strong radio waves, their magnetic fields interact with the solar wind, but such waves have not previously been observed outside the system.
Scientists were not able to know the size of the planets that emit the waves, or if they have life, after monitoring the signals through the antenna in the Netherlands.
The study’s lead author, Benjamin Pope, said the findings could lead to new techniques in the search for worlds orbiting stars, similar to the solar system.
As one of the study’s authors, Joseph Callingham of Leiden University in the Netherlands, explained, “The team is confident that these signals come from the magnetic communication of stars and planets that orbit in invisible orbits, similar to the interaction between Jupiter and its moon Io.”
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