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Devastating solar storm detected by CU researchers in nearby star system

BUT, Colo. (StudyFinds.org– According to new research, a devastating solar storm could send humanity back to the dark ages. Astronomers have discovered for the first time a powerful version of this stellar phenomenon in a star system just 100 light-years away, say researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder. The team described that sun’s spectacular fireworks display as “disturbing” and warned that a similar event could befall Earth.

The study found that such a beam of sunlight would burn up satellites in orbit and destroy the power grids serving entire cities – causing widespread power outages and knocking down telephone networks.

The star was named EK Draconis – Latin for dragon – and it was essentially breathing fire. The researchers say it is located in the constellation Draco in the far north sky. Called periodic mass ejections (CMEs), stars regularly shoot out clouds of extremely hot particles (plasma) that blast through space at tremendous speeds.

In our solar system, this could be bad news. Every 100 years or so, The sun releases these clouds in our direction.

Co-author, Dr. Yuta Notsu said in a university release.

The strongest discharge on record

An international team observed an incredible flow of energy from EK Draconis. It is much more powerful than anything seen before. Experts fear a catastrophic solar storm will hit this solar system by the end of the century.

Research leader Kosuke Namekata, a Ph. students at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, believe that a storm could be as strong as the one from EK Draconis. The researchers used ground- and space-based telescopes to observe the star, which resembles a younger version of our Sun.

It emitted a mass of scorching plasma in the trillions of kilograms – 10 times greater than the previous record from a sun-like star. Dr. Notsu notes that this event serves as a warning about how dangerous weather in space maybe.

Notsu added: “This type of high-mass ejection could theoretically also occur on our Sun. “This observation could help us better understand how similar events may have affected Earth and even Mars over billions of years.”

CME usually occurs shortly after a star slackening – a sudden and bright burst of radiation – can reach far into space. An earlier study by the same group discovered young sun-like stars around the galaxy often experience “super outbreaks”.

They are like our solar flares, but dozens, even hundreds of times more powerful. Such a superflare could theoretically also occur with Earth’s Sun and lead to an equally massive CME.

“Super flares are much larger than the flares we see from the sun,” Notsu continued. “So we suspect that they will also produce much larger launches. But until recently, it was just conjecture.”

Can our old sun do the same?

The researchers describe EK Draconis as a “curious star” about the same size as the Sun but only 100 million years old.

“What our sun looked like 4.5 billion years ago,” said Notsu.

The study authors observed the star for 32 nights last winter and spring. They scanned it using NASA’s TESS (Transitional Exoplanet Survey Satellite) and Japan’s SEIMEI telescope. On April 5, 2020, they got lucky when EK Draconis exploded into a super boom – a huge explosion. Half an hour later, a CME flew from the star’s surface.

Researchers were only able to capture the first step in its life, the “filament eruption” phase. However, it was enough to confirm the flame was a monster, traveling at a top speed of about one million miles per hour. It won’t be good for life on Earth. The findings, published in the journal Natural Astronomy, hinting at our home star is also capable of causing such acts of violent extremism.

Despite dire warnings, scientists say super CMEs are perhaps rarer in older stars. They may have been much more common in the early years of the solar system. In other words, massive launches could help shape planets like Earth and Mars into what they are today.

Notsu concludes: “The atmosphere of Mars today is very thin compared to the atmosphere of Earth. “Previously, we thought that Mars had the atmosphere is much thicker. The radionuclide mass could help us understand what happened to the planet over billions of years. “

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

https://kdvr.com/news/local/devastating-solar-storm-spotted-by-cu-researchers-in-nearby-star-system/ Devastating solar storm detected by CU researchers in nearby star system

Emma Bowman

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