An artist’s impression of a major solar flare, similar to one recently observed that was 10,000 times more powerful than largest flare ever recorded from the Sun. Image: Casey Reed/NASA
Astronomers have spotted a titanic flare on a young star 685 light years away, a huge explosion 10,000 times more powerful than the largest solar flare ever recorded from the Sun. Such outbursts may play a role in the formation and evolution of exoplanets, but the jury is still out on whether the effects are generally positive or negative.
The M-type star in question is known as NGTS J121939.5-355557, and it is only about 2 million years old. It was found by University of Warwick doctoral student James Jackman using the Next-Generation Transit Survey telescope array in Chile.
“This is normally a star that shows little activity and stays a constant brightness,” he said. “Then, on this one particular night, we saw it suddenly grow seven times brighter than normal for a few hours, which is pretty extreme. And then after that it goes back to normal.
“We see these types of flares on the Sun, but nowhere near as big as this. On our Sun, you can do incredibly ...