Thursday, May 17, 2012

'Superflare' on sun could cause power outages on Earth: researchers

A "superflare" that would cause widespread disruptions on Earth such as power outages could occur on the sun, a group of researchers has determined using satellite data.

The group, including Kyoto University professor Kazunari Shibata, defines a superflare as a solar flare that releases 100 to 1,000 times the energy of the largest solar flares known on the Sun. Researchers examined 2009 data from the United States' planetary exploration satellite Keplar on changes in the brightness of around 83,000 stars. They confirmed that 365 superflares had occurred on 148 stars.

Until now, it was thought that superflares would not occur without the presence of a hot gas giant near a star. As the sun does not have such a star near it, it was thought that superflares would not occur on the sun. However, for the 148 stars confirmed to have had superflares, none had hot gas giants near them.

Professor Kazunari Shibata of Kyoto University, part of the research group, said, "It can no longer be said that superflares will not occur at all on the sun." Read More