Scientists spot the first optical and radio aurorae beyond our solar system

An international team of scientists has found the first ever aurora outside our solar system. It’s a light display encircling a brown dwarf located around 18 light years away from our home planet Earth. The newly spotted aurora is part of the Lyra constellation.

The scientists are saying that the Aurora or the luminous glow has significant resemblance with the northern lights; however, it’s almost a million times brighter. Also, the scientists have stated that unlike the northern lights, which are mostly green, this newly detected aurora is more red than green. These findings and more have been reported in the popular science journal Nature.

Astronomer Dr. Stuart Littlefair said that this is the first time that scientists have confirmed that they have seen auroras around brown dwarves. Dr. Littlefair is a representative of the University of Sheffield.

Shining auroras are rated among the most striking displays of Earth. Such luminous glow can appear around every single planet within our solar system, not just Earth. For those who don’t know: auroras are formed when charged particles of the Sun come in contact with the atmosphere.

The newly spotted Aurora is the first of its kind as it’s not located within our solar system. It surrounds an illuminated brown dwarf that is neither big enough to be called a star nor small enough to be tagged as a planet.

The dwarf, which is known as LSR J1835, was observed by means of the Hale & Keck optical telescopes and a radio telescope called Very Large Array. The scientists found that the dwarf is rotating rapidly as the light surrounding it kept on varying in intensity. Dr. Littlefair informed that the changes in brightness appeared to be consistent and said it’s a feature one expects auroras to possess.

The aurora surrounding the dwarf is primarily red in color. This is because the charged particles in it are primarily interacting with hydrogen. Earth’s aurora is more greenish because the electrons coming from the Sun interact with oxygen atoms.

Scientists are still confused about the source of the charged particles in dwarf’s aurora. This is because the brown dwarf is itself a failed star and doesn’t have any other star similar to the Sun around it for producing charged particles.

According to Dr. Littlefair, there’s a possibility that electrons are formed of material stripped off the dwarf’s surface. Some experts, on the other hand, are saying that there might be an undetected moon or planet near the dwarf, which is throwing the material off for lighting it up.