The flare star WX UMa becomes 15 times brighter in less than three minutes

Jun 14, 2013
The flare star WX UMa becomes 15 times brighter in less than three minutes
A flare star. Credit: Casey Reed/NASA

Astrophysicists at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and the Byurakan Observatory (Armenia) have detected a star of low luminosity which within a matter of moments gave off a flare so strong that it became almost 15 times brighter. The star in question is the flare star WX UMa.

"We recorded a strong flare of the star WX UMa, which became almost 15 times brighter in a matter of 160 seconds," explains to SINC the Vakhtang Tamazian, professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela. The finding has been published in the 'Astrophysics' journal.

This star is in the Ursa Major constellation, around 15.6 light years from the Earth, and it forms part of a . Its companion shines almost 100 times brighter, except at times such as that observed, in which the WX UMa gives off its flares. This can happen several times a year, but not as strongly as that which was recorded in this instance.

Dr Tamazian and other researchers detected this exceptional brightness from the Byurakan Observatory in Armenia. "Furthermore, during this period of less than three minutes the star underwent an from spectral type M to B; in other words, it went from a temperature of 2,800 kelvin (K) to six or seven times more than that."

Based on their spectral , are classified using letters. Type M stars have a surface temperature of between 2,000 and 3,700 K; Type B between 10,000 and 33,000 K.

WX UMa belongs to the limited group of "flare stars", a class of which exhibit increases in brightness of up to 100 factors or more within a matter of seconds or minutes. These increases are sudden and irregular – practically random, in fact. They then return to their normal state within tens of minutes.

Scientists do not know how this flaring arises, but they know how it develops: "For some reason a small focus of instability arises within the plasma of the star, which causes turbulence in its magnetic field," explains Tamazian. "A magnetic reconnection then occurs, a conversion of energy from the magnetic field into kinetic energy, in order to recover the stability of the flow, much like what happens in an electric discharge."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Credit: Plataforma SINC

Next, kinetic energy in the plasma transforms into thermal energy in the upper layers of the atmosphere and the star's corona. This significant rise in the temperature and brightness of the star enables astronomers to detect changes in the radiation spectrum.

"Photometric and spectroscopic monitoring of this kind of flare stars is very relevant because it provides us with information about the changing states and physical processes, which are in turn key to studying the formation and evolution of stars," Tamazian explains.

Additionally, in cases of binary systems such as that which unites WX UMa with its companion, "observation of flares acquires a special importance, because we can investigate whether there is any relation between the frequency of flares and the position of the pair of stars on their orbit, a question which remains open."

To carry out this study, in which flares in other binary systems (HU Del, CM Dra and VW Com) have also been analysed, the SCORPIO camera of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory was used. This camera enables both the spectrum and the brightness of these objects to be detected.

Flare stars are intrinsically weak, and can therefore only be observed at relatively short distances in astronomic terms, specifically in the vicinity of the Sun, up to a distance of a few tens of .

Explore further: Smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole found

More information: N. D. Melikian, V. S. Tamazian, R. Sh. Natsvlishvili, A. A. Karapetian. "Spectral observations of flare stars in the neighborhood of the Sun". Astrophysics 56 (1): 8-18, March 2013. link.springer.com/article/10.1… %2Fs10511-013-9263-z

Related Stories

Astronomers discover new kind of variable star

Jun 12, 2013

Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-metre Euler telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star. The discovery was based on the detection of very tiny changes in brightness ...

Candidate most massive binary star identified

Apr 17, 2013

Astronomers have observed a binary star that potentially weighed 300 to 400 solar masses at birth. The present day total mass of the two stars is between 200 and 300 times that of the Sun, depending on its ...

Kepler provides insights into unusual dwarf star

Jun 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —Astronomer John Gizis of the University of Delaware, working with data obtained by the Kepler mission, is studying a highly unusual dwarf star and its powerful flares that may hold clues to the ...

Neutron star bites off more than it can chew

Jun 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- ESA's XMM-Newton space observatory has watched a faint star flare up at X-ray wavelengths to almost 10 000 times its normal brightness. Astronomers believe the outburst was caused by the star ...

Hubble finds that puny stars pack a big punch

Jan 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A deep survey of more than 200,000 stars in our Milky Way galaxy has unveiled the sometimes petulant behavior of tiny red dwarf stars. These stars, which are smaller than the Sun, can unleash ...

Recommended for you

Mystery of rare five-hour space explosion explained

Sep 17, 2014

Next week in St. Petersburg, Russia, scientists on an international team that includes Penn State University astronomers will present a paper that provides a simple explanation for mysterious ultra-long gamma-ray ...

Glowing galaxies in telescopic timelapse

Sep 17, 2014

We often speak of the discoveries and data flowing from astronomical observatories, which makes it easy to forget the cool factor. Think of it—huge telescopes are probing the universe under crystal-clear ...

Violent origins of disc galaxies probed by ALMA

Sep 17, 2014

For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter ...

User comments : 25

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cantdrive85
1.2 / 5 (18) Jun 14, 2013
"Magnetic reconnection is pseudo-science." Hannes Alfven

I guess that makes these astrophysicists pseudo-scientists!
xel3241
4 / 5 (5) Jun 15, 2013
Electric Universe advocates are probably amazed that there is a role for electromagnetism in explaining these sudden, violent outbursts of stars. Now that plasma has explained something, reality should dawn for those people once they realize that stars generally do not behave in that fashion.
alfie_null
3.8 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2013
"Magnetic reconnection is pseudo-science." Hannes Alfven

I guess that makes these astrophysicists pseudo-scientists!

In the same vein, google "magnetic reconnection pseudo science". I guess that makes you wrong.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 15, 2013
Electric Universe advocates are probably amazed that there is a role for electromagnetism in explaining these sudden, violent outbursts of stars. Now that plasma has explained something, reality should dawn for those people once they realize that stars generally do not behave in that fashion.

What EUT advocates are amazed about is the total ignorance of the processes discovered by Alfven over 70 years ago using real laboratory experiments. Exploding double layers are well understood by real plasma physicists. Astrophysical "plasma pseudo physicists" don't even know what a double layer in plasma is, or it's purpose, and as such theoretical non-sense such as magnetic reconnection has plenty of room to run wild into pseudo nonsense. Alfven was very clear in his Nobel acceptance speech that the MHD models used by astrophysical plasma physicists was completely wrong and misused by those same people.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 15, 2013
In the same vein, google "magnetic reconnection pseudo science". I guess that makes you wrong.


I did so, I like the article that showed up inre to Wikipedia censorship. It explains the situation fairly well.
http://www.libert...nection/

I think it's safe to say Alfven was correct about this, along with many other aspects of the physics he was largely responsible for developing. A little question for all you sciency people out there, given a choice between supporting purely theoretical models versus models based upon real world laboratory experiments it seems an obvious one. Yet it is the pseudoscientific theoretical models which find the most support, why is that?

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice." A. Einstein
Greenwood
5 / 5 (9) Jun 15, 2013
What I'd really like to see is one of you EU people actually finding a citation for that Alfven quote you keep drumming on about, I can find nothing on it. The best I can find is what was quoted in that page which does not say magnetic reconnection pseudo-science. I'd be willing to bet he never said it.

I think it's safe to say Alfven was correct about this, along with many other aspects of the physics he was largely responsible for developing.


Yes how terrible would it be if people expected you to question your claims while you harp on about dogma. It's just not fair is it?

Yet it is the pseudoscientific theoretical models which find the most support, why is that?


You know what I really want from a model? It's a small thing but I actually want it to be tested. All this EU and PC is fine but where is the data? You claim it comes from labs but does that mean it can explain astrophysical phenomena? No. Are some calculations and simulations so much to ask?
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (6) Jun 16, 2013
"Magnetic reconnection is pseudo-science." Hannes Alfven

I guess that makes these astrophysicists pseudo-scientists!


No, it makes Hannes Alfven a pseudo-scientist for ignoring the data and burying his head in the sand.
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 16, 2013
What I'd really like to see is one of you EU people actually finding a citation for that Alfven quote you keep drumming on about, I can find nothing on it.

You're right, here's the exact quote;
"Of course there can be no magnetic merging energy transfer. Despite.. this, we have witnessed at the same time an enormously voluminous formalism building up based on this obviously erroneous concept.
I was naïve enough to believe that [magnetic reconnection] would die by itself in the scientific community, and I concentrated my work on more pleasant problems. To my great surprise the opposite has occurred: 'merging' … seems to be increasingly powerful. Magnetospheric physics and solar wind physics today are no doubt in a chaotic state, and a major reason for this is that part of the published papers are science and part pseudoscience, perhaps even with a majority in the latter group." Alfven
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 16, 2013
Fleet,
The only ones burying their heads in the sand are those who choose to ignore the previously discovered processes of plasma double layers developed by Langmuir and Alfven.
barakn
4.7 / 5 (7) Jun 16, 2013
What I'd really like to see is one of you EU people actually finding a citation for that Alfven quote you keep drumming on about, I can find nothing on it.

You're right, here's the exact quote;
"Of course there can be no magnetic merging energy transfer. Despite.. this, we have witnessed at the same time an enormously voluminous formalism building up based on this obviously erroneous concept. bla bla bla... Alfven

Don't you know what a citation is? Hint: it's not a recitation. You were to name the source in which this quote was originally recorded.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (9) Jun 16, 2013
Are some calculations and simulations so much to ask?


There are many papers which provide these for you, one needs only to look.

http://www.plasma...ers.html

http://www.plasma...ogy.html

http://www.plasma...oks.html

http://www.plasma...rth.html

Here is a short page that discusses the laboratory approach;
http://www.plasma...tro.html

cantdrive85
1.6 / 5 (8) Jun 16, 2013
Don't you know what a citation is? Hint: it's not a recitation. You were to name the source in which this quote was originally recorded.


Here it is, apparently I forgot to include citation;
On frozen-in field lines and field-line reconnection - Alfvén
Journal of Geophysical Research
Space Physics
Volume 81, Issue 22, pages 4019–4021, 1 August 1976
ValeriaT
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 16, 2013
it makes Hannes Alfven a pseudo-scientist for ignoring the data and burying his head in the sand
Nature article: Space plasmas share a secret: Superhot clumps of matter behave according to a surprisingly universal rule.

I'd say instead, it makes a troll from Fleetfoot, don't you think?
Greenwood
5 / 5 (7) Jun 16, 2013
On frozen-in field lines and field-line reconnection - Alfvén
Journal of Geophysical Research
Space Physics
Volume 81, Issue 22, pages 4019–4021, 1 August 1976


Yeah, your "quote" doesn't appear in that paper. I have it in front of me now.
Greenwood
5 / 5 (5) Jun 16, 2013
There are many papers which provide these for you, one needs only to look.


People are aware plasma papers exist, the problem is that everytime there is a new article up you and the people at thunderboltz pull out a dismissive assertion and never back it up.
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 17, 2013
I apologize, I was working off memory and it failed me, it was in fact in;

'Double layers and circuits in astrophysics'
H Alfvén - Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on, 1986 -

http://kth.diva-p...XT01.pdf

The dismissiveness arises from the treatment I get from merely posting an alternative viewpoint. I believe Alfven was dismissive because he spent his whole career largely ignored by his peers when he was responsible for the development of several new branches in physics. It was his way of challenging the status quo, for without it he probably would have been completely ignored.
yyz
5 / 5 (6) Jun 17, 2013
"....it was in fact in;

'Double layers and circuits in astrophysics'
H Alfvén - Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on, 1986 -"

This 60-page paper too makes no mention of "pseudoscience" or "pseudo-science". Would it be too much to ask you to check your sources before posting a link?

cantdrive85
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 17, 2013
"....it was in fact in;

'Double layers and circuits in astrophysics'
H Alfvén - Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on, 1986 -"

This 60-page paper too makes no mention of "pseudoscience" or "pseudo-science". Would it be too much to ask you to check your sources before posting a link?


On the contrary, if you follow my link you will find on page 2 in the contents;
III. Double Layers and Frozen-in Magnetic Field Lines
B. Magnetic Merging- A Pseudo-Science pg. 17

Would it be too much to ask for you to follow a link? Rather than deny the obvious, read the article.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (8) Jun 17, 2013
Cantdrive, the problem with your mysterious invisible double layers, is that double layers really do exist, and we do observe them in places where they really do exist. These aren't something that astrophysicists ignore or are unaware of. We observe double layers in the dust/plasma clouds surrounding our own gas giant planets and we observe how they are formed by and interact with the moons in those systems. The electric systems you imagine would be observable, as they would emit tell-tale signals into space, and our observatories would pick that up. We are very good at picking up radio and x-ray signals from sources as close as the star in the above article. If any of the EU nonsense were happening there, we would see it quite clearly. However, it's not there. That's fairly simple. In stead, we observe something that we are calling magnetic reconnection. It's not called a double layer because we know what that would look like, and it doesn't look like that.
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 17, 2013
A double layer will form between ANY two plasma "clouds" with differing charge, chemical composition, etc..., not only in those "special" situations you mention. It happens in nonhomogeneous space plasmas as readily as plasmas in laboratory experiments has shown to occur. There is no reason to believe that the physics should be different here or there.

As far as detecting the evidence of the emissions, we do. Astrophysicists call it the CMB, but they mistakenly refer it to the "remnants of creation" rather than what it is, the tell tale evidence of those currents flowing locally all around us. Gerrit Verschuur has shown the CMB matches what would be expected and has been observed of the nearby currents predicted by PCT. once again presumed conclusions prevent most to even consider the possibility of the theory.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (6) Jun 17, 2013
A double layer will form between ANY two plasma "clouds" with differing charge, chemical composition, etc...,


A double layer will ATTEMPT to form, in the absence of any other forces or processes, and only in the special case where two bodies of plasma come into contact at a distinct boundary. In the laboratory, that works out easily, but in the real world cosmos, not so often, and certainly not on the scales you imagine. As for the CMB, point or line sources of the radiation would be detectable if such as you say were the case. Observations absolutely and positively rule out your scenario. You base all of your nonsense on outdated work that has since been proven impossible.

The structures you suggest are unstable, and will destroy themselves unless they are maintained by an external force. You have the cart pulling the horse.
cantdrive85
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 17, 2013
A double layer will ATTEMPT to form,


The distinct boundary is the DL, Alfven put it this way
"… a plasma formation by which a plasma—in the physical meaning of this word—protects itself from the environment. It is analogous to a cell wall by which a plasma—in the biological meaning of this word—protects itself from the environment."
This is confirmed in the Nature paper ValT linked above. I ask again, why different physics for different places? The Nature paper as well as plasma physicists acknowledge plasma properties apply over vast scales. Nearly all plasmas observed are of the in-homogeneous variety, why would only some of the adhere to the laws you propose. As Alfvén pointed out, time after time, the underlying assumptions of cosmologists today "are developed with the most sophisticated mathematical methods and it is only the plasma itself which does not 'understand' how beautiful the theories are and absolutely refuses to obey them."

If only you could reproduce it..
GSwift7
5 / 5 (5) Jun 18, 2013
If only you could reproduce it..


Okay, go outside tonight and look up. That's the Universe. Unfortunately for EUT, the real Universe is right outside, and anybody can take a look to see if it matches EUT or not. If Alfven had lived long enough to see detailed measurements of the CMB, I'll bet he would have understood what it meant. The guy wasn't a slouch, so despite his grudges against establishment science, he probably would have been able to understand how the smooth (isotropic) CMB cannot be explained by EUT.

A EUT Universe would have distinctive emission lines in the CMB, but our Universe doesn't have them. Alfven proposed (without any observations to back it up, so purely a hypothetical proposal) large regions of matter and anti-matter interacting to provide the power source for his grand currents and fields. Such interactions would generate x-ray and gamma ray signatures which weren't detectable in his lifetime, but would be detected by modern instruments if they exist
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 18, 2013
Yes, but is the CMB measuring what is ASSUMED by those who are crunching the statistics, and to be sure it is little more than an exercise in statistical analysis. An leading expert in signal analysis doesn't think so, and it is shown here;

http://www.sjcrot...ap-3.pdf

Yes, Alfven proposed a source of the for the observed currents, EUT does not propose a source of those currents as for them it is beyond our current abilities to solve such a problem. They do however acknowledge they are there, as observations have shown.
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 18, 2013
"....it was in fact in;

'Double layers and circuits in astrophysics'
H Alfvén - Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on, 1986 -"

This 60-page paper too makes no mention of "pseudoscience" or "pseudo-science". Would it be too much to ask you to check your sources before posting a link?


This is a perfect example of the mentality of those who vote on the comments in these threads. Here is a completely erroneous statement, couldn't be any more false. Yet, four 5-star votes from the cheerleaders of fallacy. They have lots of practice by supporting the "standard theory.