Alien Planets Circling Pulsars May Leave Electric Trails
The “wakes” of pulsar planets could help astronomers understand how planets form around the energetic bodies.
Alien worlds that orbit the energetic dead stars known as pulsars may leave electric currents behind them - anomalies that could help researchers find more of these strange planets.
Astronomers know of only four “pulsar planets” so far, and much remains unknown about such worlds, but scientists propose that they formed in the chaos after the supernova explosions that gave birth to the pulsars.
Around pulsars, “nobody would expect to find planets like those we know … because the creation of a pulsar involves the supernova of a massive progenitor star,” Fabrice Mottez, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Paris Observatory, told SPACE.com.
Mottez, lead author of a study into pulsar planets, and his colleagues suggested a new way to discover more of them: by looking for their wakes. Pulsar planets could be interacting with the winds of electrically charged particles streaming from their pulsars, leaving powerful electric currents in their wake, the researchers said. “In some circumstances, these currents would be almost as strong as those directly generated by the pulsar,” Mottez said.
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