It was the year 2000 and scientists had never seen anything like it: astronomers reported evidence of "superflares" on distant stars – solar outbursts many thousands of times more energetic than typical solar flares.
As researchers observed over subsequent studies, these intense eruptions were more common on young, rapidly rotating stars, and on stars exhibiting high levels of magnetic activity. Perhaps our much older, quieter Sun would never do such a violent thing, we speculated.
"It has been thought that slowly rotating sun-like stars basically do not have high magnetic activity events like superflares," a team of astronomers led (19659003) In a new analysis of superflare events observed by the space telescope Kepler, researchers report that superflares can "
" Our study shows that superflares are rare events, "says Notsu
" But there is some possibility that we could have experienced such an event in the next 1
Before now, scientists had witnessed Sun-like stars – meaning G-type main-sequence stars – produce superflares, although we still can not fully explain how high-energy events are unleashed, partly due to lack of analysis
To understand more, Notsu's team ran new spectroscopic observations with Kepler data, also using data from the spacecraft of the European Space Agency's Gaia and the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. stars that had produced superflares in the past – and while their statistical analysis offers clearer insights into the characteristics of these energetic outbursts, ultimately the researchers say we need even more data to understand how likely a superflare from Sun might be
" We need more studies to clarify the properties of superflare stars on Sun-like stars and to answer the important question, "Can our Sun have superflares?" "The team writes
" The number of old, slowly rotating Sun-Like superflare stars [observed] is now very small, and current statistical discussions are not enough. "
Be that as it may, Notsu says more we learn about superflares, (19659003), the Sun-like stars are definitely not excluded from this powerful, potentially very dangerous form of stellar phenomena.
"For the Sun, it's once every few thousand years on average."
That loose certainty is all we have for now, but it's imperative we try to refine our knowledge in the future – not just about the likelihood of a superflare emanating from the Sun, but also what could happen if it comes to pass.
Existing research suggests a powerful enough solar flare could wipe out technology as we know it, causing potentially trillions of dollars of damage worldwide, and triggering all sorts of weird, unforeseeable catastrophes
If that flare turns out to be an immense superflare like kind astronomers have witnessed occurring hundred of light- years away? Well, the truth is we do not really know how bad it could be.
"More accurate assessments of the effects of superflares are a next urgent task," "But we can now expect things such as large-scale blackouts, satellite communication failure, and strong radiation in space …" [start to be considered] This is the topic [start to be considered] seriously from now on. "
The Astrophysical Journal .