alien planet
Researchers Sebastian Pineda and Jackie Villadsen discovered the signals with the help of a radio telescope. This is a representational image. Sanja Baljkas/Gettyimages

After finding an exoplanet that can send out a "coherent" radio transmission, astronomers are one step closer to discovering whether there is life elsewhere in the universe.

The presence of a magnetic field on a planet, which shields radiation, is the first indication that it may be livable.

On Earth, a magnetic field that emanates from the molten iron at the center of the globe and extends into space shields life from solar radiation and charged particles.

While the magnetic fields of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are all present, they are all much greater than those of Earth.

Now, American scientists think they've found an alien world that might have its magnetic field, suggesting it might be home to extraterrestrial life.

Astrophysicists discovered that the rocky planet YZ Ceti was repeatedly reflecting radio signals from the star it orbits in a paper that was released in Nature Astronomy journal.

The sounds were discovered by scientists Jackie Villadsen and Sebastian Pineda with the aid of a radio telescope.

"We saw the initial burst and it looked beautiful," Pineda said in a statement.

"When we saw it again, it was very indicative that, okay, maybe we really have something here."

Following more research, the two developed the hypothesis that the planet, which is located about 12 light-years distant, had an Earth-like field that was interacting with its star to produce the signal.

Determining whether the far-off planet truly has its magnetic field, however, has proven difficult due to its invisibility.

"What we're doing is looking for a way to see them," Professor Villadsen said.

"If the planet has a magnetic field and it ploughs through enough star stuff, it will cause the star to emit bright radio waves."

Joe Pesce, program director for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory said the discovery would play a crucial role in determining how magnetic fields work on other planets, reports

"The search for potentially habitable or life-bearing worlds in other solar systems depends in part on being able to determine if rocky, Earth-like exoplanets actually have magnetic fields," he said in a statement.

"This research shows not only that this particular rocky exoplanet likely has a magnetic field but provides a promising method to find more."

Both scientists concur that there is still a lot of "follow-up work" to be done before they can definitively say whether the world has magnetic fields.

"There are a lot of new radio facilities coming online and planned for the future," Mr. Pineda said. "Once we show that this is really happening, we'll be able to do it more systematically. We're at the beginning of it."

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