On Monday, October 11, Science Daily revealed that Australian physicist and data scientist Dr. Benjamin Pope's search for exoplanets using the world's most powerful radio telescope, Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) situated in the Netherlands, may have reached a development.
"We've discovered signals from 19 distant red dwarf stars, four of which are best explained by the existence of planets orbiting them," Dr. Benjamin Pope, who is working on this at the Dutch national observatory ASTRON along with his colleagues, told Science Daily.
Dr. Pope is researching extrasolar planets (planets around other stars) with a focus on developing and applying new data science approaches for detecting and characterizing them, explains his website.
"We've long known that the planets of our own solar system emit powerful radio waves as their magnetic fields interact with the solar wind, but radio signals from planets outside our solar system had yet to be picked up," he furthered, explaining his recent and unexpected findings, and added that such a discovery is an important step for radio astronomy and could potentially lead to the discovery of planets throughout the galaxy.
A former NASA Sagan fellow, he currently teaches Astrophysics at the University of Queensland in Australia. The current project undertaken by him along with other scientists is led by Leiden University's Dr. Joe Callingham.
According to a report by The Guardian, the thing about red dwarf stars is that planets that orbit them often have Earth-like temperatures.
"So we're looking for habitable planets as potential abodes for life. It's not about finding Planet B for us to move to. It's about finding whether there is life elsewhere in the universe. This would be a profound discovery," he told The Guardian.