Scientists have detected a 'coherent' radio signal from an alien planet
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Scientists have discovered a 'coherent' radio signal from an alien planet.
According to findings, which were published in Nature Astronomy, the scientists picked up on radio signals while using a radio telescope.
They believe these waves are generated by interactions between the exoplanet's magnetic field and the small red dwarf star it orbits, called YZ Ceti.
The project's astronomers say this may also help them find other alien planets.
Dr Sebastian Pineda and Assistant Professor Jackie Villadsen used the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, a radio telescope operated by the US National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory, to understand the interactions between distant stars and their orbiting planets.
Joe Pesce, National Science Foundation programme director for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, said these results could prove the existence of extraterrestrial life.
He said: "The search for potentially habitable or life-bearing worlds in other solar systems depends in part on being able to determine if rocky, earth-like exoplanets actually have magnetic fields.
"This research shows not only that this particular rocky exoplanet likely has a magnetic field, but also provides a promising method to find more."
Dr Pineda, from the University of Colorado, said the radio signals the team observed were similar to the ones our blue planet gives off.
And for the radio signals to be detected, they must be very strong, according to researchers.
“Whether a planet survives with an atmosphere or not can depend on whether the planet has a strong magnetic field or not,” Pineda said.
In the past, scientists have detected magnetic fields from exoplanets the size of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.
However, picking up magnetic fields on smaller planets is extremely difficult as it's essentially invisible.
And YZ Ceti and its exoplanet YZ Ceti b provide the ideal candidates as they are so close to each other.
Dr Pineda added that interactions between YZ Ceti b and its star also produce an aurora - equivalent to the northern lights occurring on the sun.
She said of this phenomenon: "This idea is what we're calling 'extrasolar space weather'. We're actually seeing the aurora on the star - that's what this radio emission is.
"There should also be aurora on the planet, if it has its own atmosphere."
She continued: "There are a lot of new radio facilities coming online and planned for the future.
"Once we show that this is really happening, we'll be able to do it more systematically.
"We're at the beginning of it."