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Proxima Centauri Shoots Out Humongous Flare, with Big Implications for Alien Life

Published by Slashdot on Sun, 02 May 2021


"Scientists have spotted one of the largest stellar flares ever recorded in our galaxy," reports Space.com:The jets of plasma shot outward from the sun's nearest neighbor, the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri. The flare, which was around 100 times more powerful than any experienced in our solar system, could change the way scientists think about solar radiation and alien life... On May 1, 2019, the team captured the mega flare, which shone for just 7 seconds and was mainly visible in the ultraviolet spectrum. "The star went from normal to 14,000 times brighter when seen in ultraviolet wavelengths over the span of a few seconds," lead author Meredith MacGregor, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a statement... The flare on Proxima Centauri was extremely powerful compared with those emitted by the sun. Unlike flares from the sun, this one also emitted different kinds of radiation. In particular, it produced a huge surge of ultraviolet light and radio wavesknown as "millimeter radiation...." The new findings suggest that stellar flares given off by red dwarfs are much more violent than previously expected and could reduce the likelihood of alien life developing around them. Proxima Centauri is orbited by two explanets, one of which "is considered to be Earth-like and lies within the star's habitable zonethe distance from a star that could support the development of life, according to the researchers..." But in a statement, the leader authors now points out that Proxima Centauri's planets "are getting hit by something like this not once in a century, but at least once a day, if not several times a day."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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