A powerful aurora discovered beyond our Solar System for the first time
This low-mass star, called LSR J1835+3259, closely resembles a brown dwarf, a so-called “failed star” that is more massive than planets but still too small to generate thermonuclear reactions in its core.
Using radio and optical telescopes in New Mexico, Hawaii and California, the discovery and observation of auroral activity on LSR J1835+3259 reveal that brown dwarf stars’ magnetic activity and outer atmospheres are more similar to supersized planets.
The team was led by Professor Gregg Hallinan from the California Institute of Technology, who worked with researchers from the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Russia and Bulgaria. Hallinan noted that the discovery could impact how we study extrasolar planets.
“What we see on this object appears to be the same phenomenon we’ve seen on Jupiter, for example, but thousands of times more powerful,” Hallinan said. “This suggests that it may be possible to detect this type of activity from extrasolar planets, many of which are significantly more massive than Jupiter.”