Astronomers searching for magnetic fields in outer space stumbled upon something they weren’t expecting to find: radio waves that appear to be coming from a planet outside the solar system.
- In addition to transmitting radio waves, the planet -- called YZ Ceti B -- may be the first found outside the solar system with magnetic fields similar to Earth’s, according to New Mexico’s Bucknell University. "If we find some random Earth-sized planet, might it be pretty likely to have a protective magnetic field bubble?" says assistant Professor Jackie Villadsen. "Do we exist on Earth just because it's the one special weird planet with all the right conditions? So we're trying to answer the question of, 'Is Earth a common type of planet?'"
- Villadsen says it’s unlikely the radio waves are being transmitted by a life form, as YZ Ceti B is too close to its sun to maintain life. Scientists are still working to confirm their origin, she says.