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HomeScienceThe first radiation belt outside the solar system has been spotted

The first radiation belt outside the solar system has been spotted

For the primary time, astronomers have noticed a band of radiation surrounding an object exterior our photo voltaic system.

A belt of energetic electrons encircles a Jupiter-sized physique about 18 light-years from Earth, astronomers report Could 15 in Nature. Because the electrons transfer, they radiate radio waves. Such radiation belts give perception into the form of a cosmic object’s magnetic discipline, its inside construction and possibly even whether or not it has moons.

In our photo voltaic system, each planet with a worldwide magnetic discipline has radiation belts. Earth has the Van Allen belts, rings of electrons captured from the solar (SN: 3/19/14). Jupiter’s radiation belts get most of their particles from the volcanic moon Io. In these instances, the planet’s magnetic discipline traps electrons in a bubble across the planet, like fireflies in a jar.

To seek out related belts exterior the photo voltaic system, astronomer Melodie Kao and colleagues noticed a Jupiter-sized object known as LSR J1835+3259 with a community of 39 radio dishes spanning from Hawaii to Germany. Collectively, the dishes successfully created a radio telescope about as broad as Earth, letting the staff zero in on the article’s atmosphere.

The staff noticed a belt that appears lots like these of Jupiter’s however 10 million occasions as shiny, says Kao, of the College of California, Santa Cruz. The article is sort of 80 occasions as huge as Jupiter, making it both a diminutive star or a large brown dwarf, a dim starlike physique not hefty sufficient to maintain hydrogen fusion.

One large thriller is the place the electrons come from. The article doesn’t orbit a star, and it doesn’t appear to emit flares. A volcanic satellite tv for pc would match the invoice, Kao says, however that’s nonetheless speculative.

Realizing that LSR J1835+3259 has a radiation belt will assist researchers interpret information from exoplanets sooner or later, even when astronomers can’t see such belts instantly.

“Exoplanet magnetism is actually at its infancy,” Kao says. “Till we are able to characterize exoplanet magnetic fields, we’ll miss whole segments of their life tales.”

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