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Space Science

Superflares Found On Sun-Like Stars 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-ready-for-the-big-one dept.
astroengine writes "Scientists have found superflares more than 1 million times more powerful than flares generated by the sun occurring on sun-like stars being studied by NASA's Kepler space telescope. The finding, culled from 120 days of observations of 83,000 stars, is the first to detail how often and how energetic flares on other stars can be. The discovery, however, raises a question about how the massive outbursts, believed to be caused by complex magnetic interactions, can physically occur."
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Superflares Found On Sun-Like Stars

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who would have thought that there's ionized hydrogen in space doing stuff that's magnetic in nature!

    -- Typical Slashdot Know-It-All Geek

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Noooooo, can't you see it's ELECTRICAL in nature?! It's a massive cover-up by MHD supremacists! #TEACHTHECONTROVERSY

  • by Sperbels (1008585) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @08:21PM (#40023581)
    MorningLightMountain is hard at work eradicating other species.
    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      It's just like everything else in life- when you run into something weird, don't poke it with a stick!

  • by slew (2918) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @08:25PM (#40023611)

    Considering that the Kepler mission was hoping to catch quite a few so-called "hot-jupiters" in transit and apparently none have seemingly appeared around stars that have superflares, perhaps something about the superflares are keeping hot-jupiters from migrating close to their central stars or maybe these potential hot-jupiters migrated a bit too close to these stars and all we are seeing are the superflare "burps" after the star fried (or ate) those potential "hot-jupiters"...

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      Actually, as Kepler is using a transit methodology [nasa.gov] to find planets, there is nothing conclusive to say that these stars don't have large orbiting bodies. While I do accept that when looking at a large volume of stars, at least some of these should show transits by planets, but given the chances of a transit of a planet at roughly 1 AU is 0.47% [wikipedia.org], then these 365 superflares should have statistically shown one single transit event. I wouldn't consider that to be conclusive proof by any stretch. I am going to ca

      • The "hot jupiters" they are talkiing about would be much, much closer than 1 AU. Being closer increases the probability of transiting, which is where they get the 10% figure.

  • by pz (113803) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @08:50PM (#40023781) Journal

    We deploy a new instrument and are puzzled and amazed at the results. This is incredibly wonderful, but shows how little we know about the universe. It seems to happen every time we deploy a new instrument. So much to know! So much to learn!

  • Actually, the super solar flare was in the second book of the series, "Sunstorm". It's not giving much away to say that it wasn't an accident, either. Just finished the series last week.

  • called this one back around 1970 in his classic story "Inconsistent Moon".
    • "Inconstant Moon".

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      called this one back around 1970 in his classic story "Inconsistent Moon".

      Memory ageing detected at location... refresh recommended. (hint: check again the title. The story seems to be nice enough to recheck more than the title).

  • so we just need a stargate near to time travel with them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1 out of 75 stars? Seems high. Those stars must have a different environment than our sun (or at least I hope so).

    365 stars experience a superflare in a 120 day span. Times 3 to extrapolate to 1 year... = 1095 stars

    83000/1095 = 75

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      I think it argues not that the stars have a different environment but that the stars themselves are not so sunlike as all that.

      It calls into question something tfa didn't answer: just how sunlike are these sunlike stars? Are they about the same mass and luminosity? About the same age?

      Do they rotate at the same rate?

  • Only half (Score:4, Insightful)

    by techno-vampire (666512) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @11:36PM (#40024715) Homepage
    You realize, of course, that we're really only seeing half of the flares. That's because we can only see the ones that happen to be facing us. It's just like with pulsars: there's undoubtedly a lot of them out there that we'll never detect simply because we're not in the path of their output.
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      And many times more planets not transiting stars than planets that do transit stars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AbrasiveCat (999190)

      You realize, of course, that we're really only seeing half of the flares. That's because we can only see the ones that happen to be facing us. It's just like with pulsars: there's undoubtedly a lot of them out there that we'll never detect simply because we're not in the path of their output.

      Probably less than half, maybe a 1/4 to 1/3. You aren't going to see the ones on edge. It could also depend on how often we look at each star and how fast they rotate relative to us.

  • Assume that the Many Worlds interpretation is true. In this case, what's to stop our Sun from being a superflare star, flaring on average every seventy five years or so? This would mean that our world and everything we know of the benign nature of the local stellar environment is just an artifact of our survival along an extremely low-probability path of the tree of all possibilities describing the existence of the earth in some approximately life-friendly form.

    In effect, we're living in an instance. Realit

    • by jpatters (883)

      From spooky to downright disturbing, because if that is true, then the passengers of the very first viable colony expedition to another star will look back and see a super flare roast the Earth to a cinder just as soon as they are out of range.

      • by Ruie (30480)

        From spooky to downright disturbing, because if that is true, then the passengers of the very first viable colony expedition to another star will look back and see a super flare roast the Earth to a cinder just as soon as they are out of range.

        Too complicated. We'll just get a signle Boltzmann brain [wikipedia.org].

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Not a problem. If many world is true I don't have to worry because there's always a future on one of the branches ahead of me where I will continue to live happily.

  • Sun like stars, what composition are they, their ages, binary systems etc.

    I would be curious if they could say what their rotational speeds were compared to our Sun, if these super flare stars have high rotational speeds it could provide enough twisting to create these.

    The hot planet theory would mean the mass of the planet had to be high enough and the distance close enough that the gravity center was inside the star to stir it up enough I would think. The idea that some teleconnection or alignment could

    • Yeah,
      I wager rotation speed lies behind this. Even if it is possible to see the surface speeds using Doppler spectrum spreading or something, maybe the cores can rotate even faster? A high rotation speed could also be indicative of a different early formation history making the likeliness of close Jupiters small. Another explanation could be that these suns have indeed had close gas giants in the past which now has long crashed into the sun and thereby increased the spin.

"In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -- Carl Sagan, Cosmos

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