Astronomers Detect First CME Blast From A Star Other Than The Sun

Posted: Aug 12 2018, 10:35am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 12 2018, 10:37am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Astronomers Detect First CME Blast from a Star Other Than Sun
Credit: NASA

Coronal mass ejection occurs when a star releases plasma and charged particles from its corona into surrounding space

Researchers have identified a large explosion of plasma in a distant star. The star, called HR 9024, is a G-type main sequence star that lies approximately 450 light-years from Earth. This provides the first evidence of coronal mass ejection from a star other than the sun.

Coronal Mass Ejections or CMEs erupt frequently from the sun and occur when sun emits plasma and charged particles from its corona into surrounding space. A CME can travel at a speed of several million of miles an hour and send billions of tons of solar particles into space. Fastest CMEs can reach Earth within few hours while slower ones can take one to three days to arrive. Earth-directed CMEs can trigger geomagnetic storms, a space weather phenomenon that can disrupt GPS or satellite communication systems on Earth.

The new research builds on the decade-old data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory that theorized that a CME erupted from HR 9024 star. When researchers looked at changes in wavelengths of X-rays emitted from the star to study material in the corona, they noticed that the material moved away from the star after the flare stopped. It kept going back and forth in a loop extending out from the surface of the star.

“People have looked for this for a long time, and this is the first time this has been seen.” Astrophysicist Julián Alvarado-Gómez of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge said in a statement.

Researchers also reported that the particular CME contained approximately 1 billion trillion grams of material, which is similar to the predicted estimates. However, the kinetic energy released from the material was a lot lower than had been predicted by theory.

HR 9024 is about three times as massive as the sun, meaning that the object is larger than a medium-sized star. Prior research has suggested that material from a CME may not be able to escape the strong magnetic field of a large star which would explain why the material observed by researchers was continually pulled back in the loop or curving structures above the star’s surface. This is the reason CMEs from other stars have not been spotted before.

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