A new study calculates that our sun may produce a very rare and very power ‘superflare’ in the next 100 years, threatening electronics systems around the globe
Solar flares are a common phenomenon and generally don’t pose much risk to the Earth but now scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB) say that within the next 100 years, Earth may be in for a much rarer–and far more powerful–wallop from the sun in the form of a so-called superflare, putting the planet’s electronics infrastructure at risk.
Superflare May Erupt from Sun in Less Than 100 Years, Threatening Global Electronic Infrastructure
Presenting the UCB research at the 234th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in St. Louis, Missouri, Yuta Notsu, of the National Solar Observatory in Boulder, Colorado and a visiting researcher at UCB–as well as the lead author of the paper published last month in The Astrophysical Journal detailing the researchers’ findings–said that “our study shows that superflares are rare events, but there is some possibility that we could experience such an event in the next 100 years or so.”
Until now, astronomers studying the outer reaches of the Milky Way have witnessed one of the galaxy’s most brilliant displays of pyrotechnics, a superflare. So far, scientists aren’t sure what is causing these gargantuan eruptions of energy–which can be seen from hundreds of light-years away–but they have assumed that it is the product of very young, very active stars rotating very quickly and with lots of fuel to burn.
Notsu and his colleagues from Kyoto University, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, University of Hyogo, University of Washington and Leiden University found that while superflares don’t often erupt from older stars like our sun, they do still occur once every several thousand years. In the past, these events would have produced spectacular auroras but otherwise wouldn’t have posed much threat to humans on the ground, thanks to the Earth’s magenetic field which helps shield the planet from solar weather events.