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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)

Latest tweets

Hunting for wine glasses in the sky! Awesome work @crispingola

Great to have the NOVA speaker out to speak about neutron star-neutron star mergers and all the great science you can do with them!

Daily image of the week: The winter sky above the @LOFAR antenna near Unterweilenbach.

Artists send a message into space with LOFAR.

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