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Can We Detect Auroral Emission from Proxima b?

14 Nov 2017, 17:00 UTC
Can We Detect Auroral Emission from Proxima b?
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Editor’s note: Astrobites is a graduate-student-run organization that digests astrophysical literature for undergraduate students. As part of the partnership between the AAS and astrobites, we occasionally repost astrobites content here at AAS Nova. We hope you enjoy this post from astrobites; the original can be viewed at astrobites.org!
Title: The Detectability of Radio Auroral Emission from Proxima b
Authors: Blakesley Burkhart & Abraham Loeb
First Author’s Institution: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Status: Published in ApJL, open access
Dazzling auroral displays are not uncommon in our solar system. In fact, when the Sun sends highly energetic particles out in to the solar system, any planets with a substantial magnetic field will interact with the particles, resulting in the emission of radio waves. Detecting this emission allows us to determine many interesting planetary properties, such as orbital parameters, habitability, plate tectonics and atmospheric compositions. Yet we have not observed any auroral activity from planets that lie outside our solar system (we have, however, detected radio auroral emission on a brown dwarf star!).
Figure 1: Artist’s impression showing Proxima b orbiting its red dwarf host Proxima Centauri. [ESO/M.Kornmesser]Today’s bite investigates our nearest stellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri, to answer one very important question: can ...

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