Dead planets tore down to their cores by the stars they orbit still broadcast their presence to the cosmos, and specialists are hoping to tune in.
When certain stars, likely together with our sun, attain the end of their lifespan they’ll develop into a red giant that burns all close by planets to a crisp, leaving just orbiting metallic cores. The massive star then sheds its outer layers, remodeling right into a dimming remnant called a white dwarf.
The magnetic field between the lingering core and white dwarf corpses of orbiting former planets can form a circuit that emits radio waves, which will be picked up by radio telescopes here on Earth.
Now, a group that includes the co-discoverer of the first exoplanets is planning to seek for these creepy dead planets by detecting their zombie radio indicators.
“Nobody has ever found simply the bare core of a significant planet before, nor a major planet only through controlling magnetic signatures, nor a major planet around a white dwarf. Due to this fact, a discovery here would characterize ‘firsts’ in three different senses for planetary systems,” explains Dimitri Veras from the UK’s University of Warwick in an announcement.
Veras, together with Pennsylvania State University Professor Alexander Wolszczan — co-discoverer of the first confirmed exoplanet back within the 1990s — has printed analysis within the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that outlines which white dwarf stars are the best candidates to verify for the broadcasts from past the planetary grave.
“We expect that our chances for thrilling discoveries are quite good,” Wolszczan mentioned.