Sun’s Superflares May Wreak Havoc on Earth

First Posted: Mar 28, 2016 04:48 AM EDT

The Sun is capable of producing devastating superflares which can negatively affect the earth, reports a study published in Nature Communications. Solar eruptions are common, but the magnitude of eruptions the Earth faces is low enough not to create any devastating effect. The study says that there is, however, no guarantee that these eruptions will not take the shape of superflares in the future.

Solar eruptions (commonly called 'solar flares') that strike Earth are made of energetic particles that are thrown away from the Sun into space. The ones that hit Earth encounter the magnetic field around our planet. The collision of the solar eruptions and the Earth's magnetic field results in beautiful auroras. However, if the Sun sends gigantic amounts of hot plasma created during solar eruptions, the Earth may suffer extreme consequences.

The Kepler mission had discovered superflares in larger numbers four years ago. The Solar eruptions are very feeble in comparison to 'superflares'. Superflares are not known very well till now.

One of the biggest solar flares had taken place in September 1859, also known as the 'Carrington event', happened when huge amounts of hot plasma from the Sun struck Earth. It heavily affected the telegraph system worldwide and Earth's protective ozone layer was damaged by the eruptions.

Aarhus University researchers in Denmark have studied the magnetic fields on the surface of almost 100,000 stars and found that these superflares are similar to the solar flares. However, out of all these stars, nearly 10 percent had a magnetic field resembling that of the Sun's.

Therefore, it is not impossible that the Sun could produce a superflare. If such a thing occurs, it may heavily affect the communication and space technologies. Although, there is no claim of casualty due to a solar flare, too big a flare may even cause direct harm to living beings, the researchers say. 

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