Sun Could Unleash Superflare Capable Of Destroying Earth

Posted: Mar 26 2016, 3:26am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 26 2016, 12:52pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Sun Could Unleash Superflare Capable of Destroying Earth
Credit: AIA/SDO/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

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Researchers claim that the Sun could generate superflares and it could have devastating effects on Earth.

The Sun constantly ejects streams of particles into space during solar eruptions. When these particles interact with Earth’s atmosphere, they produce phenomena called Northern Lights and may disrupt communication signals and navigation systems as well. But Earth could suffer an apocalyptic destruction if it is struck by a solarflare.

Superflares are still a mystery for scientists and they are not sure whether superflares happening on other stars involve the same mechanism as the solar flares. If that is the case, our Sun could also be a superflare star and is quite capable of firing off an incredibly powerful superflare that could wreck havoc on Earth.

A combined team of international researchers led by Aarhus University sheds light on the possibility of any such scenario.

In September 1859, a powerful sun storm hit the atmosphere of the Earth when gigantic amount of hot plasma poured out of the Sun’s surface and caused fluctuations in communication systems and power supplies. The storm, known as Carrington Event, was the strongest solar storm on record and analysis suggested that the energetic particles emitted from the storm damaged the Earth’s protective ozone layer as well. The eruptions on stars can be up to 10,000 times bigger than the Carrington Event.

“The magnetic fields on the surfaces of stars with superflares are generally stronger than the magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun. This is exactly what we would expect if superflares are formed in the same way as solar flares.” Lead researcher Christoffer Karoff said in a statement.

To estimate the strength of other star’s magnetic field, researchers observed the surfaces of almost 100,000 stars via new Guo Shou Jing telescope in China and found that only 10% of stars had a magnetic field with a strength similar to or weaker than sun’s magnetic field, making it highley unlikely yet not impossible that the Sun could produce a superflare.

"We certainly did not expect to find superflare stars with magnetic fields as weak as the magnetic fields on the sun. This opens the possibility that the sun could generate a superflare—a very frightening thought.” Christoffer Karoff said.

If such kind of superflare slams the Earth today, it could have severe consequences. It will not only disrupt the communication and technology on Earth but can change our planet’s atmosphere and its ability to support life on its surface.

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