Super-superfluous could be a threat to the Earth


Astronomers have learned in the last ten years that even the big solar flares – powerful bursts of radiation – emitted by our Sun are small potatoes compared to some of the light flares seen around other stars. It is now common to see "super-levels" hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than sun-rays emitted by stars hundreds of light-years away. Earlier this year, researchers even identified a star that emitted a supercharged flare. billion times more energetic than those that we usually see coming out of the sun.

These superficial zones are mainly observed in young active stars. But a new study presented Monday at the 234th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in St. Louis shows that even our mature and relatively docile Sun is able to produce surprisingly powerful flares, even when both or three millennia. The work was also published on May 3 in The astrophysical journal.
"Young stars have super surfaces once a week or so," said in a press release the senior author of the study, Yuta Notsu of the University of Colorado at Boulder. "For the Sun, it's on average every few thousand years."

Basically, about 30 to 50% of the super-angles produced by the Sun can hit Earth, said Notsu. This means that we can expect that a super-rocket about 100 times larger than normal hits the Earth about once every 10,000 years or so.

And we could be late. "Our study shows that super events are rare events," said Notsu. "But it is possible that we can live such an event in the next 100 years."

Superfluous sizing

To carry out this study, Notsu and his team first became interested in data from the Kepler Space Telescope, which has spent the last decade searching for planets by monitoring the changing luminosity of stars over time. time. From a sample of approximately 90,000 sun-like stars, researchers identified more than 1,000 super-diameters from approximately 300 stars.

At first, they thought these stars would turn fast. This is because fast rotating stars tend to have strong magnetic fields that entangle easily, which is supposed to trigger flares. But a fast turnaround is apparently not a requirement for strong breakouts. By reinforcing their brightness data with the size estimates provided by the Gaia satellite, the researchers were able to determine the rotational speed of their flaming stars. They found that, as one might expect, stars that rotated once every two or three days had a super-superfluous about 20 times more powerful than slower-moving stars like the Sun, which rotates about every 25 days. However, we still saw stars similar to those of the Sun, producing dangerous super-angles.

NASA captured a solar flare on April 17, 2016 in 4K quality.

NASA Goddard

prepare yourselves

The confirmation that slow-moving stars like the Sun can still radiate super-superb rays is certainly intriguing, but it is also a bit scary.
"When our Sun was young, it was very active because it was spinning very fast and probably producing more powerful eruptions," said Notsu. "But we did not know if such big outbreaks were occurring on the modern, very low frequency Sun."

However, there is a historical reference point. In September 1859, a solar flare sent a wave of charged particles to our planet. This triggered one of the most powerful geomagnetic storms ever recorded: the Carrington event. When the particles entered the protective magnetic field of the Earth, they triggered magnificent auroras to the south of Hawaii and Cuba. But the Carrington event did not just produce pretty lights in the sky. It has also wreaked havoc on telegraph networks spread across North America and Europe. In fact, it has been reported that cosmetically overloaded telegraph lines were firing and shocking telegraph operators during the event.

If a moderate torch like the Carrington Event disrupted electronic systems significantly in the middle of the 19th century, what would a super-torch 100 times more powerful today?

"If a superflare happened 1,000 years ago, it was probably not a big deal. People may have seen a great dawn, "said Notsu. "Now it's a much bigger problem because of our electronic components."

How big it will be still to be determined. "A more accurate assessment of the effects of super-angles is an urgent next task," said Notsu Astronomy"But we can now expect things such as large-scale power outages, satellite communication failures, and strong radiation in space," which can cause severe damage to instruments and astronauts.

To prepare for what could be an inevitable strike from a super rocket, Notsu says we must work to protect our electronics by investing in radiation protection and backup systems.

"This subject should [start to be considered] seriously from now on, "Notsu emphasized.


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