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

Daily Image of the Week: New HBA tile prototype for LOFAR4SW works, the new tile will be capable of producing two beams, to allow parallel astronomy and space weather observations.

Daily Image of the Week: Apertif and @LOFAR uncover a Fast Radio Burst: Last week’s @Nature publishes the paper “Chromatic periodic activity down to 120 MHz in a Fast Radio Burst”. Apertif (left) and LOFAR (right) play leading roles for this result.

A fantastic video by @drbecky_ with a great explanation about @LOFAR and the recent press release of @AstroRadioLeah and her team!

Amazing result for @LOFAR and Westerbork radio telescopes! Astronomers combined both telescopes and discovered that a simple binary wind cannot cause the puzzling periodicity of an FRB. The bursts may come from a magnetar, results published in @Nature