It was the year 2000 and scientists had never seen anything like it: astronomers reported evidence of "superflares" of distant stars – solar explosions that were many thousand times more energetic than typical solar flares.
As researchers observed in later studies, these intense eruptions occurred more frequently in young, fast-rotating stars and stars with high magnetic activity. Maybe our much older, calmer sun would never be as violent as we suspected.
"It has been assumed that slowly rotating sun-like stars basically have no high magnetic activity events like superflares," said a team of astronomers from Yuta Notsu of the University of Colorado, Boulder, explaining in a new essay ̵
In a recent analysis of superflare events observed by the Kepler Space Telescope, researchers report that superflares can indeed be produced by sun-like stars, albeit much less often than younger, more magnetically active stars.
"Our study shows that superflares are rare events," says Notsu.
"But there is a possibility that we could experience such an event in the next 100 years or so."
Previously, scientists had seen how sun-like stars – that is, G-series stars – produce superflares, though we always do can not fully explain how these high-energy events are triggered in part due to lack of analysis.
To understand more, the Notsu team conducted new spectroscopic observations with Kepler data, using data from the Gaia spacecraft of the European Space Agency and the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico.
Overall, they found evidence of 43 sun-like observations of stars that had produced superflares in the past – and while their statistical analysis provides clearer insights into the properties of these energetic outbursts, researchers ultimately say that we need more data to grow Understand how likely a superflare could be from the sun.
We need further studies to clarify the properties of superflarestars on sun-like stars and answer the important question, "Can our sun have superflaresterne?" Writes the team.
"The number of old, slow-rotating sun-like stars Superflare stars [observed] are now very small, and current statistical discussions are not enough."
Anyway, Notsu says, the more we learn about superflares The more we realize that while y may be more common in younger stars, sun-like stars are not excluded from this powerful and potentially very dangerous form of star phenomenon.
"Young stars have super torches every week or so," says Notsu.
"For the sun it's on average every few thousand years."
This loose certainty is all that we have now, but we must try to refine our knowledge in the future – not just about the likelihood that a superflare emanates from the sun, but also about what could happen if it arrives.
Previous research suggests that a strong enough solar flare could wipe out of the technology we know, potentially causing billions of dollars in damage and triggering all sorts of strange, unpredictable catastrophes.
years away? The truth is that we do not really know how bad it could be.
"More detailed assessments of the effects of superflares are a next pressing task," Notsu told astronomy .
. "But we can now expect things like large-scale power outages, satellite communications failures, and high levels of space radiation … This topic should be serious from now on [start to be considered]."
The results are reported in The Astrophysical Journal .