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Kepler space telescope records the number of superflares
Thu May 17, 2012 5:29PM
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NASA's Kepler space telescope has recorded the number of superflares or enormous releases of magnetic energy that can damage a nearby orbiting planet.

According to the report published in the journal Nature, superflares are much less frequent on slow-rotating stars like our Sun.

The biggest recorded flare on the Sun happened on September 1, 1859 and according to English astronomer Richard Carrington sent a flow of electromagnetic radiation towards the Earth.

The new report says the superflares observed by Kepler can be 10,000 times more energetic than a Carrington flare.

Kepler is currently gathering information on the sudden brightening associated with flares in a patch of sky about 600 to 3,000 light-years from Earth.

The space telescope has recorded a total of 365 superflares during the last 120 days and its observation shows that the stars which have superflares display extremely large starspots, regions of the star's surface that are relatively cooler than the typical surface temperatures around them.

Scientists say a superflare on our Sun would be able to strip away the ozone layer, leading to increased radiation and widespread extinctions on Earth.

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