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Beyond Earthly Skies

Superflares

21 Mar 2013, 13:10 UTC
Superflares
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Solar flares are the most energetic explosions in our Sun’s atmosphere. A typical solar flare releases anywhere between ~10 thousand up to ~100 million times the world’s annual energy consumption in a matter of hours. The most powerful solar flare in recorded history was the Carrington Event which took place in the year 1859. This solar flare created a large geomagnetic storm on Earth which damaged telegraph systems and produced dramatic aurorae all around the world, visible even as far as the tropical latitudes. Should such an event occur in the present day, it would be very damaging to our technological society. Even so, flares that are many times more energetic than the Carrington Event are known to occur on other Sun-like stars. These flares are known as superflares and they are typically ~10 to ~1000 times more energetic than the Carrington Event. Whether our present Sun is capable of launching a superflare is not just of astrophysical important, but also of sociological importance.Kepler is a space telescope designed to detect Earth-like planets around other stars. It constantly monitors the brightness of over a hundred thousand stars to a high level of precision and look for periodic dips in brightness ...

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