Is lightning a possible source of the radio emission on HAT-P-11b?

Gabriella Hodosán, Paul B. Rimmer, Christiane Helling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Lightning induced radio emission has been observed on Solar System planets. There have been many attempts to observe exoplanets in the radio wavelength, however, no unequivocal detection has been reported. Lecavelier des Etangs et al. (2013, A&A, 552, A65) carried out radio transit observations of the exoplanet HAT-P-11b, and suggested that a small part of the radio flux can be attributed to the planet. In the current letter, we assume that this signal is real, and study if this radio emission could be caused by lightning in the atmosphere of the planet. We find that a lightning storm with 530 times larger flash densities than the Earth-storms with the largest lightning activity is needed to produce the observed signal from HAT-P-11b. The optical counterpart would nevertheless be undetectable with current technology. We show that HCN produced by lightning chemistry of such thunderstorms is observable 2-3 years after the storm, which produces signatures in the L (3.0μm − 4.0μm) and N (7.5μm − 14.5μm) infrared bands. We conclude that future, combined radio and infrared observations may lead to lightning detection on planets outside the Solar system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1222-1226
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date23 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2016


  • Astrochemistry
  • Planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • Planets and satellites: detection
  • Planets and satellites: individual: HAT-P-11b
  • Radio continuum: planetary systems
  • Radio lines: planetary systems


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