This rocky exoplanet has something Mars doesn’t.  crucial to the development of life

The Earth’s magnetic field generated by the liquid core inside the Earth constantly protects the Earth’s atmosphere from the extremely strong current of the solar wind generated in the solar corona, and above all against the effects of flares or coronal mass ejections on the surface of the Sun. The stream of high-energy particles that reach Earth’s ocean is redirected by magnetic field lines toward the planet’s poles. If it is strong enough, it leads to the formation of the aurora borealis at most.

Also Read: This Sound Is Terrifying! The latest video from the European Space Agency (ESA) reveals what Earth’s magnetic field looks like

When a planet – like Mars, for example – does not have a magnetic field, the situation is completely different. The solar wind stream hits the upper atmosphere directly. Particles of the solar wind are capable of eliminating, for example, hydrogen atoms from water molecules there. Hydrogen, as the lightest element, is the easiest to break free from gravitational bonds on the planet. Over the ages, the action of the solar wind has eroded Mars’ atmosphere. The result of this action was that at present the atmospheric pressure on the surface of the planet is about 960-1050 hPa, and on Mars it is 7 hPa, in other words, the Martian atmosphere is a hundred times thinner. In addition, this means that more cosmic radiation, which is very harmful to life, reaches the surface of the planet. This is not good news for any form of life, if any, that ever existed on the Red Planet. This is very important information for scientists looking for life on planets orbiting stars other than our sun.

Also read: This distant planet has developed a second atmosphere. May consist of volcanic fumes

For more than two decades, scientists in their search for life in outer space have been searching especially aggressively for rocky, Earth-like planets that orbit perfectly close to their star to allow liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface. Assuming that there are life forms in the universe that do not depend on carbon or do not require the presence of water, we tend to look for life forms that we can identify ourselves with, that is, similar to what we can find on Earth. Since life in the solar system requires a rocky planet, habitable zone and magnetic field, we must look for such places in space. While we know of more and more rocky planets, the magnetic field has been a problem until now.

YZ Ceti b – the first rocky exoplanet with a magnetic field

Scientists observing space with the Very Large Array radio telescope probably announced this They were the first to discover the magnetic field of a rocky planet. Moreover, it is one of the closest planets we have found so far.

It’s a rocky planet orbiting the star YZ Ceti b in the constellation Cetus, just 12 light-years away.

Here it is necessary to immediately make a reservation: we will not find life on this planet, because it rotates very close to its star, which is also an angry red dwarf. YZ Ceti b is close enough to its parent star that it takes just two days to make a full orbit around it. For comparison, Mercury in the solar system takes 88 days to revolve around the sun. However, this is not important in this case.

The magnetic field of an exoplanet

Scientific article authors Published in the periodical natural astronomy It indicates that, during the observations, they were able to extract a radio signal, which is likely to be caused by the interaction of the rocky planet’s magnetic field with a strong stream of particles emitted from the star orbiting it.

To detect such a signal, scientists focused on analyzing planetary systems where an Earth-sized planet is very close to its parent star. The small distance means that the planet must make its way through a fairly dense stream of radiation from its star. If that planet had its own magnetic field, the thrust by a strong current of stellar winds should cause it to emit powerful radio waves. This is the case in the YZ Ceti system, where plasma stimulated by the passing planet interacts with the star’s magnetic field. Analysis of the recorded signal allows scientists to determine how strong the exoplanet’s own magnetic field is.

In this case, astronomers point out that, as in the solar system, in the YZ Ceti system, interactions between the stream of particles emitted by the star and the planet’s magnetic field lead to the formation of the aurora borealis. Interestingly, in this case, the aurora is visible (in the form of radio radiation) at the star’s poles. The planet itself – if it has an atmosphere – must also have an aurora.

The magnetic field around YZ Ceti b is just the beginning. But radio astronomers are already wringing their hands. In the coming years, several radio telescopes will be brought into service that will be able to search for magnetic fields around exoplanets. If further observations confirm that what we see in the YZ Ceti system is indeed the planet’s magnetic field, the methods applied to it will soon be applied to other planets. Perhaps in this way we will find a “real Earth 2.0”, where life will not only have the right temperature, liquid water, but also enough protection from the radiation of the parent star. It’s always one step closer to finding life in outer space.

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