University of Leicester planetary scientists have found new evidence suggesting auroras – similar to Earth's Aurora Borealis - occur on bodies outside our solar system.
Auroras occur on several planets within our solar system, and the brightest - on Jupiter – are 100 times brighter than those on Earth. However, no auroras have yet been observed beyond Neptune.
A new study led by University of Leicester lecturer Dr Jonathan Nichols has shown that processes strikingly similar to those which power Jupiter's auroras could be responsible for radio emissions detected from a number of objects outside our solar system.
In addition, the radio emissions are powerful enough to be detectable across interstellar distances – meaning that auroras could provide an effective way of observing new objects outside our solar system.
Auroras occur when charged particles in an object's magnetosphere collide with atoms in its upper atmosphere, causing them to glow. However, before hitting the atmosphere, these particles also emit radio waves into space.
The study, Origin of Electron Cyclotron Maser Induced Radio Emissions at Ultracool Dwarfs: Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling Currents, which recently appeared in the Astrophysical Journal, shows that this phenomenon is not limited to our solar system.
It shows that the radio emissions from a number of ultracool dwarfs may be caused in a very similar, but significantly more powerful, way to Jupiter's auroras.
Dr Nichols, a Lecturer and Research Fellow in the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "We have recently shown that beefed-up versions of the auroral processes on Jupiter are able to account for the radio emissions observed from certain "ultracool dwarfs" - bodies which comprise the very lowest mass stars - and "brown dwarfs" - 'failed stars' which lie in between planets and stars in terms of mass.
"These results strongly suggest that auroras do occur on bodies outside our solar system, and the auroral radio emissions are powerful enough - one hundred thousand times brighter than Jupiter's - to be detectable across interstellar distances."
The paper, which also involved researchers at the Center for Space Physics, Boston University, USA, could have major implications for the detection of planets and objects outside our solar system which could not be discovered with other methods.
What's more, the radio emission could provide us with key information about the length of the planet's day, the strength of its magnetic field, how the planet interacts with its parent star and even whether it has any moons.
Dr Nichols added: "I am part of a group who have recently been awarded time on the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) - centred in the Netherlands but with stations across a number of countries in northern Europe including the UK - to try to observe auroras on exoplanets, so hopefully there will be some interesting results soon."
Dr Nichols' work was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
The LOFAR exoplanets work is led by Philippe Zarka, based at CNRS Observatory, Paris.
For more information, please contact Dr Nichols on +44 (0)116 252 5049 or at: email@example.com
The full paper can be found at: http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/760/1/59
For more information about the Science and Technology Facilities Council visit: http://www.stfc.ac.uk/About+STFC/19072.aspx
Dr Jonathan Nichols | EurekAlert!
New method will enable most accurate neutron measurement yet
02.10.2015 | Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI)
An easier way to operate and program multitasking machines
30.09.2015 | Siemens AG
Das Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) zeigt vom 6. bis zum 8. Oktober 2015 auf der LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Halle 9, Stand E67/09 wie laserbasierte Technologien zum Labor der Zukunft beitragen können. Als Teil des Musterlabors smartLAB präsentiert das LZH, wie die additive Fertigung, besser bekannt als 3D-Druck, Versuchsaufbauten flexibler gestalten kann.
Zwölf Partner aus Wissenschaft und Industrie stellen auf der Sonderausstellung smartLAB ein intelligentes und innovatives Musterlabor vor. Teil dieses...
The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.
Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...
Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.
Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...
02.10.2015 | Veranstaltungen
02.10.2015 | Veranstaltungen
01.10.2015 | Veranstaltungen
02.10.2015 | Messenachrichten
02.10.2015 | Architektur Bauwesen
02.10.2015 | Materialwissenschaften