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Radio Waves Could Help Detect Alien Worlds

A new technique could help researchers detect exoplanets which orbit distant stars. The technique uses Radio waves from the auroras of planets to detect planets in orbit at a large distances from their parent star.

An artist's concept of the
Spitzer Space Telescope,
courtesy of NASA
Ultraviolet light are flares in the upper atmosphere of planets known as Auroras. At the University of Leicester in the U.K researchers were able to show that radio emissions from gas gaints such as Jupiter and Saturn could be detectable by radio telescopes like the European Low Frequency Array . which should be completed in the Netherlands before the end of 2011.
Jonathan Nichols who presented the recent study said: " This is the first study to predict the radio emissions by exoplanetary systems similar to those we find at Jupiter or Saturn. At both planets, we see radio waves associated with auroras generated by interactions with ionized gas escaping from the volcanic moons, Io and Enceladus". These emissions could be detected as far away as 150 light years away from earth according to Nichols.
Although several hundreds exoplanets were detected by scientists since the mid 1990's - finding new ones remains a great challenge - new techniques such as the one suggested in the current research could eventually help scientist detect what has long been considered the "holy grail" of planet hunting - an earth-like planet around a distant sun.


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