Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Superflare from Sun can be fraught with disastrous consequences – but that may not happen for several centuries


Sun impacts

Using NASA’s Kepler, the planet-hunting space telescope, a research team has analyzed a superflame that was emitted by KIC9655129, the binary star lying about 1,500 light years away from Earth.
Kepler is capable of picking even tiny fluctuations in brightness from stars, and that indeed is the way the telescope identifies planets (subtle dips in brightness can result from the orbiting worlds crossing the face of their stars from Kepler’s perspective).
Key similarities were revealed from observations with the help of Kepler between the superflare of KIC9655129 and eruptions on the Earth’s sun, according to researchers.
Lead author of the study, Chloe Pugh from the University of Warwick stated that randomly, the solar flares occur with multiple waves that are superimposed on top of each other. He added that evidence has now been found for multiple periodicities or multiple waves in the stellar superflare and properties of the waves are consistent with what occurs in solar flares.
Temporary radio blackouts can be caused by strong solar flares and oftentimes, they are also accompanied by huge explosions of solar plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which can be far more disruptive. Powerful CMEs, which hit Earth, for instance, can cause geomagnetic storms affecting GPS navigation, power grids and radio communication for extended durations. Therefore, the consequences from a superflare (and the possible associated Super CME) could also be disastrous, says Pugh.
However, she added that we need not worry much about such a worst-case scenario. She added that the conditions necessary for a super flame are very unlikely to occur on our Sun considering the previous observations of solar activity.
The study has now been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.