A new study titled “A Multi-Period Oscillation in a Stellar Superflare” has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and funded by the European Research Council, detailing the fact that similarities in superflares observed between the star KIC9655129 and our Sun has emerged, prompting solar scientists to investigate the physics underlying this phenomenon - report scientists from University of Warwick.
The superflares was observed with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope by researchers from the University of Warwick, and the wave patterns in the superflares seen in the stellar KIC9655129 is almost identical to solar flares seen on our Sun.
Although researchers have noticed a number of flares in stars within our Milky Way, the one given off by the binary star KIC9655129 is even more powerful by what had ever been observed from our Sun; but the similarity in the superflares make scientists to believe that the dynamics behind both might be the same.
The energy from a normal flare from the sun is equivalent to 100 million megaton bombs, while the energy from a superflare given off by the sun is almost a billion megaton bombs. The only fear, according to Chloë Pugh of the University of Warwick's Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics, is that a sudden solar superflare could impact negatively on energy and communication systems on Earth.
"Our solar system is filled with plasma, or ionized gas, originating from the Sun as a result of the solar wind and other more violent solar eruptions, such as solar flares,” Pugh explained. “Stars very similar to the Sun have been observed to produce enormous flares, called superflares. To give us a better indication of whether the Sun could produce a catastrophic superflare, we need to determine whether the same physical processes are responsible for both stellar superflares and solar flares.”
Pugh clarified that in the unlikely case that a superflare occurs on our Sun, radio communication and GPS systems could be disrupted, and electricity installations could be affected as the superflares hit power grids. The only consolation is that previous solar activity shows the conditions required for a solar superflare to occur are not likely.
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"When a flare occurs we typically see a rapid increase in intensity followed by a gradual decline,” said co-author Dr. Anne-Marie Broomhall from the University of Warwick. “Usually the decline phase is relatively smooth but occasionally there are noticeable bumps, which are termed 'quasi-periodic pulsations' or QPPs. We used techniques called wavelet analysis and Monte Carlo modelling in order to assess the periodicity and statistical significance of these QPPs."