Astronomers Discover First Ever Alien Planet Outside Our Solar System With Magnetic Field


HAT-P-11b was discovered using Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data.

Astronomers have discovered and verified more than 5000 planets outside of our solar system, with an additional 8,288 probable candidates. Until today, However , no magnetic fields surrounding any of these exoplanets had been identified. Astronomers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), and several other institutions and universities presented their results in Nature Astronomy.

HAT-P-11b is an exoplanet about the size of Neptune that circles HAT-P-11, a K-type (orange dwarf) star discovered 123 light-years distant from Earth. They discovered it using a method known as Transit Spectroscopy, or the Transit Method, in which a periodic drop in the brightness of a star signals the passage of a planet in front of it. It is used to find exoplanets and learn about their atmospheres.

Hubble detected HAT-P-11b in the ultraviolet spectrum performing six transits around the HAT-P-11 star. It also identified carbon ions in the atmosphere, which the researchers argue is most likely due to the presence of a magnetosphere.

"This is the first time the signature of an exoplanet's magnetic field has been directly detected on a planet outside our solar system. A strong magnetic field on a planet like Earth can protect its atmosphere and surface from direct bombardment of the energetic particles that make up the solar wind. These processes heavily affect the evolution of life on a planet like Earth because the magnetic field shelters organisms from these energetic particles," said Gilda Ballester, a co-author of the paper.

Reference(s): nature.com(research article)


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