Scientists spotted a superflare larger than some of the hugest solar storms on record — coming off a cold and small, almost Jupiter-sized star. Did ULAS J224940.13−011236.9 just nova?
The Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS), a sky-surveying telescope in Chile, first detected the flare on 13 Aug 2017.
The little L dwarf star, named ULAS J224940.13−011236.9, is some 250 light-years away. It is the smallest and coolest star ever-observed emitting this kind of rare white-light superflare — the star burning at temperatures of only 1,930 degrees Kelvin, approximately the same as a blowtorch’s flame.
The researchers calculated the amplitude, duration, and energy of the flare and concluded that the flash probably lasted 10 minutes and in that time released 3.4 * 1033 ergs of energy.
For those 10 minutes, the star shone a staggering 10,000 times brighter than normal.
“It is amazing that such a puny star can produce such a powerful explosion,” co-author Peter Wheatley, an astronomy and astrophysics professor at the University of Warwick and leader of the NGTS, said in the statement.
“This discovery is going to force us to think again about how small stars can store energy in magnetic fields.”
Such a flare occurring on our own star could cause untold devastation here on Earth.
Stars Regularly Nova
There is strong evidence supporting superflares, or novas, being part of Earth’s geological history.
Dr. Robert Schoch, Associate Professor of Natural Sciences at Boston University and author of Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in our Past and Future, points to ice core samples from Greenland that show a solar burst recorded at the end of the last Ice Age, known as the Younger Dryas, about 9700 BCE.
Schoch estimates that the nova event was as much as 40 times the power of the most destructive solar storm observed in modern history, the 1859 Carrington event.
The enormous amount of plasma that arrived immediately after the nova circa 9700 BCE bombarded the Earth producing an effect similar to one or more major asteroid impacts. This has caused confusion and led many archaeological researchers into mistakenly interpreting historic evidence of impacts causing and/or ending the last ice age, as deriving from asteroid impacts rather than plasma discharges.
In his book, Schoch asserts that ancient records are consistent with a solar flash that wiped out an ancient civilization predating the end of the last Ice Age, widely assumed to be Plato’s Atlantis.
Nova’s have also been correlated with magnetic reversals/excursion, or pole shifts –like the one we’re entering now– which studies suggest occur on a periodicity of 12,000 years (or even less).
Check out these external links for more info:
Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift
(Featured image: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick)