By Harish Vedantham

The Earth receives its life-sustaining energy from Sunlight, but “explosions” on the Sun can also be life-threatening. Explosions on the Sun’s surface, called flares, can spew out large masses of plasma and harmful radiation towards the planets. Radio telescopes have been instrumental in detecting and studying the physics of solar flares. With an exquisitely sensitive telescope like LOFAR, we can now look for similar radio signatures on other stars to decipher how conducive to life their exoplanets are.

Published by the editorial team, 19 June 2020

This quest reached its first milestone recently with the detection of radio-waves from the star GJ1151 pictured below. The waves carry the predicted signature of a plasma bridge (bluish ribbon in the picture) between the star and its planet.

(credit: Danielle Futselaar)

This is the beginning of an exciting path for LOFAR 2.0. The search for exoplanets is one of the specific science cases that LOFAR 2.0 will be engaged in.

The plasma bridge is just one way that stars influence exoplanets. We expect to detect emission from several phenomena affecting the “space-weather” around exoplanets. With upcoming observations, we also aim to detect the magnetic fields of exoplanets which are their defence mechanism against stellar flares.

A solar flare. (copyright: L. Fletcher)

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Daily image of the week

On June 13-17, the LOFAR Family Meeting took place in Cologne. After two years LOFAR researchers could finally meet in person again. The meeting brings together LOFAR users and researchers to share new scientific results.

Our renewed ‘Melkwegpad’ (Milky Way Path) is finished! The new signs have texts in Dutch on the one side and in English on the other side. The signs concerning planets have a small, 3D printed model of that planet in their centre.
#Melkwegpad @RTVDrenthe

Daily image of the week

The background drawing shows how the subband correlator calculates the array correlation matrix. In the upper left the 4 UniBoard2s we used. The two ACM plots in the picture show that the phase differences of the visibilities vary from 0 to 360 degrees.

Daily image of the week: Testing with the Dwingeloo Test Station (DTS)
One of the key specifications of LOFAR2.0 is measuring using the low- and the highband antenna at the same time. For this measurement we used 9 lowband antenna and 3 HBA tiles.