The Sun Can Also Produce Superflares, New Research Revealed

Milky Way Galaxy

A superflare is a massive burst of charged particles, solar energy and cosmic radiation from the surface of a star.

Scientists had assumed that superflares occurred mostly on stars that were young and active, our Sun doesn't fit into that category.

Researchers from University of Colorado (CU) Boulder in the USA have discovered that superflares can happen on more established, calmer stars like our own - though more once in a while, or about once every couple of thousand years. And our own sun is still prone, but just once every few thousand years.

The solar flares have the potential to wipe out entire satellite networks and disrupt power grids around the globe.

Dr. Notsu said: "Our study shows that superflares are rare events".

To investigate, Dr Notsu and his colleagues from Japan, the U.S. and the Netherlands studied superflares detected from 43 Sun-like stars using data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft and New Mexico's Apache Point Observatory.

The incredible instrument, which launched in 2009, observed rare instances of stars suddenly and briefly peaking in brightness.

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But, on the other hand, it seems that a team of expert astronomers in the USA has revealed the shocking announcement that the Sun could unleash one of these flares before the end of the century. But what the Kepler data was showing seemed to be much bigger, on the order of hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than the most giant flare ever recorded with modern instruments on Earth.

In light of the group's computations, more youthful stars will in general produce the most superflares. They found that, as expected, stars that rotate once every few days had superflares about 20 times as powerful as more slowly spinning stars like the Sun, which rotates about once every 25 days.

"In any case, we didn't have a clue if such huge flares happen on the advanced sun with low recurrence", he said.

Astronomer Yuta Notsu, who lead a study into the dangers of superflares, will present the news at the 234th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in St Louis, Missouri, between June 9 and June 13.

They eventually become less prevalent since a stars ages, as seen at a new study which looked at statistics from the European Space Agency's Gaia space craft and by the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. The researchers then subjected those rare events to a rigorous statistical analysis. But older stars like our sun, now a respectable 4.6 billion years old, aren't off the hook.

Dr. Notsu said: "If a superflare occurred 1,000 years ago, it was probably no big problem. People may have seen a large aurora", Notsu said in a published statement, referencing phenomena like the Northern Lights. "Today, it is really a far larger problem as of our electronic equipment". During this period Kepler observed a large amount of star activity, including several superflares.

Co-authors on the recent study include researchers from Kyoto University, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, University of Hyogo, University of Washington and Leiden University.

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