Science & Tech

A repeating radio signal has been detected from the neighbouring Exoplanet YZ Ceti b

Astronomers have discovered a recurring radio signal from the exoplanet YZ Ceti, indicating the presence of a magnetic field around it.

What is YZ Ceti b?

  • YZ Ceti b is a planet the size of Earth that orbits a star other than our sun.
  • It is only about 12 light-years away from Earth and revolves around a tiny red dwarf star called YZ Ceti.

How did the discovery come about?

  • The researchers had to conduct several rounds of observations before they were able to identify radio signals from the star YZ Ceti, which appeared to correspond to the orbital period of the planet YZ Ceti b.
  • They reasoned from this that the signals were caused by the interaction of the planet’s magnetic field and the star.

Why is the magnetic field important?

  • The YZ Ceti star-exoplanet interaction produces stunning auroral lights, akin to the sun’s energetic surges that impair telecommunications on Earth.
  • The presence of an exoplanetary magnetic field was established using radio waves.
  • This can only happen if the exoplanet circles its parent star very close and has its own magnetic field to impact the stellar wind and generate the signals.

What’s the implication for YZ Ceti b?

  • The small orbit of YZ Ceti b indicates that the planet takes just a couple of earth days to circle its star.
  • Almost half of all stars visible in the sky may have rocky, Earth-sized planets in livable orbits around them.
  • Astronomers believe that the presence of a magnetic field on the Earth-like exoplanet known as YZ Ceti b indicates the possibility of life on that planet.

What is the frequency of such magnetic fields?

  • Until today, planetary scientists had never been able to detect magnetic fields on smaller, stony exoplanets.
  • The survival of a planet’s atmosphere may be determined by whether or not it has a strong magnetic field, because the field prevents the planet’s atmosphere from being damaged by charged particles blowing in from its star.
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