BREAKING NEWS: Astronomers have just detected the first 'coherent' radio signal from an alien planet just 12 light years away

BREAKING NEWS: Astronomers have just detected the first 'coherent' radio signal from an alien planet just 12 light years away...

If there really are aliens out there, they probably have working compasses. That's because scientists have picked up "coherent" radio signals from a planet 12 light years away from Earth, suggesting it has a magnetic field.

Magnetic fields are essential for a habitable planet, as they protect the life on it from the bombardment of cosmic radiation and charged particles.

Researchers at the US National Science Foundation (NSF) say the radio signal came from a rocky planet called YZ Ceti b, which orbits the small red dwarf star YZ Ceti.

It likely originated from an interaction between the planet's magnetic field and the star it orbits, similar to the aurora borealis, or aurora borealis, here on Earth. The search for potentially habitable or life-bearing worlds in other solar systems depends in part on being able to determine whether rocky, Earth-like exoplanets actually have magnetic fields," says Joe Pesce, NSF program director for the National Observatory of Radio astronomy.

“This research shows not only that this particular rocky exoplanet likely has a magnetic field, but provides a promising method for finding more.” The Earth's magnetic field is a layer of electrical charge that surrounds it and extends into space.

It is generated largely by the swirling, superheated liquid iron that forms our planet's outer core, 1,900 miles (3,000 km) below our feet.

As heat escapes from the inner core, the iron moves in convection currents and the movement generates powerful electrical currents. The rotation of the Earth on its axis causes these currents to form a magnetic field.

In addition to allowing compasses to function, the magnetic field deflects charged particles fired by the sun known as the “solar wind,” as well as cosmic radiation from outer space.

Without this protective layer, these particles would likely eliminate the ozone layer, our only line of defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation.

A magnetic field is therefore believed to be one of the essential ingredients in making a planet habitable, as it can prevent its atmosphere from wearing away. 'Whether a planet survives with an atmosphere or not may depend on whether the planet has a strong magnetic field or not,' said Sebastián Pineda, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado.

So when scientists detected a repeating radio signal emanating from YZ Ceti b with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array Telescope, it raised hopes that it could harbor life.

The fact that it can be detected so far away indicates that it is very strong, suggesting that the planet's magnetic field is also strong. “This is giving us new information about the environment around the stars,” Pineda said.

Earth's magnetic field can attract some of the sun's charged particles, causing them to collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere, such as oxygen and nitrogen.

When they do this, some of the energy from the collisions is transformed into blue-green light, known as the aurora borealis or aurora borealis. This is the only visual representation of the magnetic field we can experience, but it is otherwise invisible.

In the new study, published in Nature Astronomy, the authors describe the signals as “auroral radio emissions.”

That's because they believe the radio waves are the result of interactions similar to those of the northern lights.

When charged particles are ejected from YZ Ceti, some of them bounce off YZ Ceti b's magnetic field to interact with the star's magnetic field.

This produces an aurora in the star itself, resulting in radio waves detected on Earth. “There should also be aurora on the planet if it has its own atmosphere,” said Jackie Villadsen, an astronomer at Bucknell University.

The fact that the star and the planet are very close together (YZ Ceti b completes a full orbit in just two days) means that these interactions and the resulting radio waves occur quite frequently.

Villadsen said: "These planets are too close to their stars to be anywhere you can live, but because they are so close, the planet is going through a lot of stuff coming out of the star."

“If the planet has a magnetic field and passes through enough stellar material, it will cause the star to emit bright radio waves.”

This gives researchers a good opportunity to conclude whether magnetic fields on distant planets are actually detectable from Earth.

Because they are invisible, they are notoriously difficult to identify, so it is equally difficult to conclude that the planets they range around are habitable. If it has a magnetic field, YZ Ceti b is a particularly strong candidate for a habitable exoplanet, or planet. outer or solar system, because it is rocky and similar in size to the Earth.

Despite getting a result that “no one has seen before,” the team says they are still waiting for “really strong confirmation of radio waves caused by a planet.”

Pineda said, “There are many new radio facilities coming online and planning for the future.” Once we show that this is actually happening, we will be able to do it more systematically. We are at the beginning.

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