A record flare spotted Sun’s nearest neighbor: The Tribune India

New York, April 22nd

Scientists have spotted the largest flare ever recorded by the Sun’s nearest neighbor, the star Near Centaur.

Near Centaur is a small but powerful star. It sits just four light-years or more than 20 trillion miles from our own Sun and hosts at least two planets, one of which may look like Earth.It is also a “red dwarf,” the name of a class of stars that are unusually small and obscure, explained Meredith MacGregor, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Rock.

For the new study, published in the “Astrophysical Journal Letters,” the team observed a Near Centaur for 40 hours using nine telescopes on earth and in space.

They found that a Near Centaur emitted a flare or radiation explosion that begins near the surface of a star, which is one of the most violent seen anywhere in the galaxy. The flame was about 100 times more powerful than any similar flame seen by the earth’s sun. Over time, such energy can take away the planet’s atmosphere and even expose life forms to deadly radiation.

“The star went from normal to 14,000 times brighter when seen in ultraviolet wavelengths for the duration of a few seconds,” MacGregor said.

The team’s findings allude to a new physics that could change the way scientists think about stellar flares. Nor do they bode well for any foul organism brave enough to live close to the volatile star.

The instruments included the Hubble Space Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array and NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Five of them recorded the massive flare-up of Near Centauri, capturing the event as it produced a broad spectrum of radiation.

The technique delivered one of the deepest flare anatomies of any star in the galaxy. Although it did not produce much visible light, it did generate a huge increase in ultraviolet and radiation, or “millimeter,” radiation.

“In the past, we didn’t know that stars could flare in the millimeter distance, so this is the first time we’re looking for millimeter flares,” MacGregor said.

Those millimeter signals, MacGregor added, could help researchers gather more information about how stars generate flashes. IANS