Astronomers have been witness to superflares, which are brilliant, dazzling pyrotechnic displays found in the entire galaxy. This happens when stars eject massive amounts of energy for a reason unknown. It was always assumed that these occurred only on young suns. However, research shows they can also happen on older ones, although only rarely. Yuta Notsu, who is the lead researcher, stated that if such superflare occurred on our Sun, Earth’s comms satellites would be rendered useless with massive blackouts throughout the planet, as the Earth gets hit by intensive radiation.
This research will be presented at the AAS meeting in Saint Louis by Notsu. He is from CU Boulder’s LASP. He stated that such events could occur within a century or so. The Kepler Telescope aided in discovering this. It found light from very distant stars to get momentarily brighter all of a sudden. These bursts are now called superflares. While normal flares from the sun were common, Kepler’s data showed flares that were astronomically more powerful compared to recordings from the Sun.
Notsu stated that while our Sun probably went through such a phase when it was young too. However, it was still unknown if such events occurred on our Sun, even at low frequency.
Data from ESA’s Gaia and New Mexico’s APO were used to analyze 43 such superflares. Statistical analysis was used to analyze them. They found that age did have an effect. While younger stars produced most superflares, old stars had superflares going on every few millennia.
The results were published in TAJ journal. It is yet to be known when the Sun might erupt next with a superflare. Notsu stated that our electronics system could be knocked out when it happens, causing a bigger problem. Had this occurred 1000 years ago, all it would have done was cause an Aurora.