Tags: sun | superflare | earth | threaten | nasa | kepler

Sun Superflare, High-Radiation Blast, Could Be Potentially Catastrophic

Image: Sun Superflare, High-Radiation Blast, Could Be Potentially Catastrophic
(NASA Goddard/YouTube)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 Dec 2015 01:52 PM

Could the sun possibly produce a superflare — similar to the ones found on the sun-like star observed by NASA's Kepler mission — that would threaten life on Earth?

Researchers posed that question in a research study published in October's Astrophysical Journal Letters, based on the results of witnessing a white-light stellar superflare on the star KIC 9655129, which has been observed by the Kepler space telescope. Researchers have said the star is similar to our solar system's sun.

University of Warwick researchers in England said that, because of that similarity, our sun has the potential to release such superflares, which would be the energy equivalent of 100 billion megaton bombs. That type of energy has the ability to produce large scale power blackouts, Warwick researchers said in a release.

"Our solar system is filled with plasma, or ionised gas, originating from the sun as a result of the solar wind and other more violent solar eruptions, such as solar flares," lead study researcher Chloë Pugh, of the university's Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics, said.

"Stars very similar to the Sun have been observed to produce enormous flares, called superflares. To give us a better indication of whether the sun could produce a catastrophic superflare, we need to determine whether the same physical processes are responsible for both stellar superflares and solar flares."

According to the Christian Science Monitor, solar flares
that are more common from the sun come from burst of radiation across much of the electromagnetic spectrum when the sun's magnetic energy builds up and then suddenly releases, usually from dark sunspots.

A solar storm in March 1989 caused blackouts throughout North America, including the power grids in the entire province of Quebec, the Monitor noted. Pugh said, though, that based on past readings of the sun, the chances of Earth experiencing a superflare could be rare.

"If the Sun were to produce a superflare it would be disastrous for life on Earth; our GPS and radio communication systems could be severely disrupted and there could be large scale power blackouts as a result of strong electrical currents being induced in power grids," she said in the Warwick statement.

"Fortunately the conditions needed for a superflare are extremely unlikely to occur on the sun, based on previous observations of solar activity," she continued.

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Could the sun possibly produce a superflare — similar to the ones found on the sun-like star observed by NASA's Kepler mission — that would threaten life on Earth?
sun, superflare, earth, threaten, nasa, kepler
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2015-52-09
Wednesday, 09 Dec 2015 01:52 PM
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