Scientists have discovered the largest flare ever recorded in the Sun’s closest neighbor, Proxima Centauri.
In a unique experiment, astronomers working at the nine largest ground-based and space telescopes observed the closest star to the solar system, Proxima Centauri, for several months. As a result, in May 2019, they managed to simultaneously record the most powerful flare in the entire history of observing a neighboring star using five telescopes. The research results are published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Proxima Centauri is a small but powerful star. It is located just four light-years from the Sun. At least two planets revolve around it. One of them may look like Earth. Proxima Centauri is also a red dwarf, the name of a class of unusually small and faint stars.
The mass of a star is only one-eighth of that of the Sun. However, she managed to surprise the astronomers.
Scientists observed it for about 40 hours using nine telescopes on earth and in space. Proxima Centauri emitted a powerful burst that lasted only seven seconds but caused a burst in both ultraviolet and millimeter wavelengths. The flare was characterized by a strong impulsive burst never seen before at such wavelengths. Its power was a hundred times greater than any such solar flare. She also became one of the strongest observed anywhere in the galaxy. The star became 14,000 times brighter.
The team’s findings hint at new physics that could change the way scientists think about stellar flares.