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NASA's Chandra Telescope Finds Young Stars Regularly Unleash 'Superflares'

Credits: NASA Chandra X-Ray Telescope.

Credits: NASA Chandra X-Ray Telescope.

Young stars unleash incredibly powerful flares - flashes of increased brightness - several times a week, which are at least a thousand times stronger than solar flares.

Using the data from NASA’s space telescope Chandra X-ray Observatory, scientists have found that young stars unleash incredibly powerful flares - flashes of increased brightness - several times a week, which are at least a thousand times stronger than solar flares. These flares can strongly influence the formed or still forming planets around them. These flares cause drive away gases from space dust clusters leading them to form pebble-like structures ultimately leading to the formation of planets. For planets that are already formed or being formed, these blazes can blast them, reversing and slowing their progress.

“Our work tells us how the Sun may have behaved and affected the young Earth billions of years ago," said Konstantin Getman, the lead scientist of the study, in a news release by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Getman, who works at the University of Pennsylvania, adds, “In some ways, this is our ultimate origin story: how the Earth and Solar System came to be." The study has been accepted to be published by the Astrophysical Journal.

The scientists looked at the data from more than 24,000 stars in 40 different star-forming regions in space. When scientists studied the flares sent by over a thousand stars, they found that the “mega” flares fired by the young stars were up to 10 million times more energetic than the Solar Carrington Event - a very powerful storm of solar flares that was followed by solar plasma hitting the earth’s magnetic shield in 1859. The solar storm, if it happens today, could cause widespread blackouts and electrical disruption across the planet. The “super” flares of the young stars, which occur as often as several a week, are at least one hundred thousand times stronger than the solar storm.

As far as scientists know now, these flares can also help form planets by pushing has away from discs of space dust and allowing them to settle. However, these star flares can also do the opposite - blast their atmosphere with powerful star storms containing radiation, ultimately destabilising or destroying them.

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first published:June 19, 2021, 16:25 IST