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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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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.