- News Home
12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
- About Us
ScienceShot: Suns Spew Superflares
16 May 2012 1:00 pm
The stability of the sun's light has probably nourished terrestrial life, but "superflares"—outbursts 10 to 10,000 times stronger than any known solar flare—can arise from stars as warm and massive as our own. Just one superflare could damage the ozone layer and kill off species on an orbiting planet. Now, thanks to 4 months of observations of 83,000 suns by NASA's Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have discovered that 148 of these stars launched a total of 365 superflares. Most of these feisty stars spin fast, intensifying magnetic fields that spawn spots and flares, but one star in six rotates slowly, like the sun. Every superflare-spewing star has spots so huge they cause the starlight to vary as the star turns, the team reports online today in Nature. Thankfully, spots this large don't appear on the sun, suggesting that our star (shown here) is too tame to unleash a superflare that would fry us all.
See more ScienceShots.