Rare Superflares Could Threaten Earth

CATACLYSMIC Sun BELCH causes hour-long RADIO BLACKOUT in SPAAACE
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While hunting for planets around distant stars using the Kepler Space Telescope, however, NASA scientists noticed that far-flung stars can on rare occasions release bursts of energy that are similar to flares, but up to thousands of times more intense.

Astronomers have learned over the past decade that even large solar flares - powerful bursts of radiation - from our Sun are actually small potatoes compared to some of the flares we see around other stars.

Dr Notsu said: "When our Sun was young, it was very active because it rotated very fast and probably generated more powerful flares".

Researchers from University of Colorado (CU) Boulder in the United States have discovered that superflares can happen on more established, calmer stars like our own - though more seldom, or about once every couple of thousand years.

It is hard to anticipate the events which take place on the sun daily, which means that estimating the date when a superflare will occur is nearly impossible.

Superflares ejected from the Sun could upset hardware over the Earth, causing far-reaching power outages and shorting out correspondence satellites in a circle, researchers caution. "But there is some possibility that we could experience such an event in the next 100 years or so".

The spacecraft launched in 2009, and its goal was to seek out planets circling stars that are very far from Earth.

Very young stars tend to have more hostile personalities, and superflares are incredibly common in systems with stars that aren't as mature as our sun. Kepler's data was, however, showing that the flares from the stars were much bigger compared to the largest flare ever recorded by instruments on Earth, bringing the question of whether it's possible for the sun to eject a massive superflare which could disrupt communications on Earth.

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Initially, scientists believed that superflares were only limited to be an occurrence in younger stars. But older stars like the Sun could have superflares every few thousand years on average while younger stars have superflares every week or so.

Notsu clarified that typically estimated flares are regular on the Sun.

Before now, scientists had witnessed Sun-like stars - meaning G-type main-sequence stars - produce superflares, although we still can't fully explain how these high-energy events are unleashed, partially due to a lack of analysis.

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

To discover, specialists diverted to information from the European Space Agency's Gaia shuttle and from the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. Our sun reached the middle of its life, and it has an age of 4.6 billion years.

Stars are unpredictable. They occasionally and randomly let out belches of plasma, particles, and radiation, in the form of solar flares or coronal mass ejections. But he said that it's a matter of when, not if. "People may have seen a large aurora", Notsu said.

"Now, its a much bigger problem because of our electronics".

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