Flash on sun-like star warns of possible danger to life on Earth

(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers observing a star system dozens of light-years from Earth have witnessed for the first time a giant outburst that, if it happened on the Sun, could threaten life on our planet.

This study examined a stellar phenomenon called a coronal mass ejection, sometimes also called a solar storm. One of the co-authors, Yuta Notsu of the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, explained that the Sun bursts out in these types of bursts on a regular basis – they are composed of clouds of extremely hot particles, or plasma, that can be thrown into space at speeds of millions. kilometers per hour. And this may mean that our planet does not have the most promising prospects – if a coronal mass ejection hits the Earth directly, it can “fry” satellites in orbit and lead to a shutdown of extensive power grids.

This new study, led by a team led by Kosuke Namekata of Japan’s National Astronomical Observatory, shows that our planet may be doing worse than we thought.

In this study, Namekata and Notsu and colleagues used ground-based and space-based telescopes to observe the EK Draconis system, which looks like a young version of our Sun – the star is only 100 million years old. In April 2020, the team watched in the EK Draconis system erupt a cloud of incandescent plasma weighing in quadrillion kilograms – more than 10 times the most powerful coronal mass ejections ever recorded from a sun-like star.

This event can serve as a warning about how dangerous space weather can be.

Researchers observed the EK Dragon star over 32 nights in winter and spring 2020 using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) telescope and other observatories. Researchers witnessed a powerful superflare followed by a coronal mass ejection 30 minutes later.

According to the team’s findings, the Sun is also capable of such powerful coronal mass ejections, but the likelihood of them remains extremely low, the team members note.

The study is published in the journal Nature Astronomy.


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