(Natural News) Many stars out in space are much smaller and colder than the sun. But these small celestial bodies may still unleash stellar flares that dwarf the mightiest solar flares known to man.
Researchers have recently detected a white-light superflare from a star around the size of Jupiter. It is the coolest and smallest one that ever released such a rare and massive type of stellar flare.
Flares originate from an abrupt surge of magnetic energy deep inside the star. The activity releases charged particles that kindle the plasma on the stellar surface, thereby unleashing enormous amounts of radiation.
“The activity of low mass stars decreases as you go to lower and lower masses and we expect the chromosphere (a region of the star which support flares) to get cooler or weaker,” explained the University of Warwick researcher James Jackman, who authored the study. “The fact that we’ve observed this incredibly low mass star, where the chromosphere should be almost at its weakest, but we have a white-light flare occurring shows that strong magnetic activity can still persist down to this level.” (Related: Scientists warn of MASSIVE solar storms: “We need to be better prepared.”)
A tiny star released a stellar flare 10 times bigger than the Carrington event
ULAS J224940.13-011236.9 is an L dwarf star found 250 light-years from Earth. Its entire diameter takes up just 10 percent of the sun’s radius.
Jackman explained that the L dwarf star was usually too faint for most telescopes. However, it experienced a massive stellar flare at the same time that the Warwick-led research team happened to be studying its neighbors.
The excited researchers spent the next 146 nights studying the surprise white light superflare. They used both ground-based telescopes and NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space observatory.