A group of astronomers published in the magazine Nature a study in which they claim to have detected radio signals from four red dwarf stars that could indicate the existence in their orbits of planets invisible to modern telescopes.
“We have discovered similar signals from 19 distant red dwarfs, four of which are more reasonable to explain by the existence of planets orbiting them,” say researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia.
“For a long time, we have known that the planets of the solar system emit powerful radio waves because their magnetic fields interact with the solar wind, but no one has been able to receive radio signals from planets outside our system,” they add.
In order to detect these radio signals, the scientists used the world’s most powerful low-frequency radio telescope, which is located in the Netherlands.
To carry out the search they were inspired by known phenomena of the planets near the Earth. “We have known for a long time that the planets in our own solar system emit powerful radio waves when their magnetic fields interact with the solar wind.”
The team focused on red dwarfs as their intense magnetic activity can produce starbursts and radio waves.
Thus, the fact that radio signals have been detected in four red dwarfs could mean that they are being orbited by celestial bodies that are not yet perceived by current astronomical observation methods.
“We cannot be 100 percent sure that the four stars that we think have planets are in fact planetary hosts, but we can say that a planet-star interaction is the best explanation for what we are seeing,” explains Benjamin Pope, one of the study authors.