Kyoto University scientists observe huge ‘superflare’ from red dwarf star 16 light years away

One of the flares was 20 times larger than those emitted by our sun

Astronomers have detected 12 stellar flare phenomena on AD Leonis, a red dwarf star 16 light years away. Interestingly, one of the flares was 20 times larger than those emitted by our sun. Solar flares are sudden explosions that emerge from the surfaces of stars.

Scientists from Kyoto University's Graduate School of Science and the National Astronomical Observatory of observed this phenomenon using Kyoto University's 3.8 meter Seimei telescope, which is located on a hilltop to the west of Kyoto, reported ScienceDaily.

“On rare occasions, an extremely large superflare will occur. These result in massive magnetic storms, which when emitted from our sun can significantly affect the earth's technological infrastructure,” said Kosuke Namekata, first author of a new paper published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.

According to Forbes, no comparable flare has ever been seen before, and the discovery offers a rare chance to gather data. It also reported it is not possible that any kind of life could exist on exoplanets that orbit M-type stars, if superflares around them are common. In such cases, radiation level would be too high.

"This was new for us as well, because typical flare studies have observed the continuum of the light spectrum -- the broad range of wavelengths -- rather than energy coming from specific atoms," said Namekata.

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