Scientists say that "superflares" could threaten Earth one day

Milky Way Galaxy

The exact reasons for a superflare aren't understood, but superflares eject huge bursts of energy that can be seen from hundreds of light years away. Powerful flares are often, but not always, accompanied by a coronal mass ejection.

Initially, scientists believed that superflares were only limited to be an occurrence in younger stars.

The findings are reported in The Astrophysical Journal.

"Young stars have superflares once every week or so", Dr Notsu said.

"Be that as it may, we didn't have the foggiest idea if such enormous flares happen on the cutting edge sun with low recurrence", he said. In uncommon occasions, the light from removed stars appeared to get all of a sudden, and quickly, more brilliant. Our Sun commonly has normal-sized flares. 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.

The shocking revelation, according to one of the researchers, is a "wake up call" for everyone on the planet. CU Boulder scientist Yuta Notsu, the lead author of the study on superflares, says that if a superflare erupted on the Sun, Earth would likely sit in the path of the high-energy radiation released.

It is already known that solar flares can disrupt essential electrical equipment, including power lines, electronic devices, and satellites. On the morning of September 2, the first particles from, what we now know was an enormous eruption on the sun, reached the Earth. Moreover, Notsu does not only refer to smartphones and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Researchers are unsure when the next superflare will hit Earth - but are certain that one will eventually come.

"If a superflare occurred 1,000 years ago, it was probably no big problem", said Notsu. "People may have seen a large aurora", Notsu said. Moreover, there is a possibility that even satellites in orbit would stop communicating with the Earth.

The SWPC said: "Solar flares usually take place in active regions, which are areas on the Sun marked by the presence of strong magnetic fields; typically associated with sunspot groups". Currently, researchers don't have an exact explanation of why superflares occur.

Similar to the effects of massive geomagnetic storms, these massive superflares from the sun could have devastating consequences to the electronics and telecommunication systems across the Earth. With these instruments, they identified superflares that occurred in 43 stars resembling the sun. The researchers then subjected those rare events to a rigorous statistical analysis.

It was previously thought that older stars like our Sun - a healthy 4.6 billion years old - didn't really have the power to eject superflares, however a group of eggheads led by the University of Colorado Boulder in the United States this week showed this isn't the case.

In the new research paper, scientists using data from the Kepler space telescope surveyed stars like our own Sun to determine how common superflare events are.

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