James Clerk Maxwell Telescope discovers flare 10 billion times more powerful than those on the sun

February 12, 2019, James Clerk Maxwell Telescope
Credit: James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

The Hawaii-based James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) has discovered a stellar flare 10 billion times more powerful than the Sun's solar flares, a history-making discovery that could unlock decades-old questions about the origin of our own Sun and planets, giving insight into how these celestial bodies were born.

"A discovery of this magnitude could have only happened in Hawaii," said Dr. Steve Mairs, astronomer and lead investigator of the team that discovered the . "Using the JCMT, we study the birth of nearby as a means of understanding the history of our very own solar system. Observing flares around the youngest stars is new territory and it is giving us key insights into the physical conditions of these systems. This is one of the ways we are working toward answering people's most enduring questions about space, time, and the universe that surrounds us."

The JCMT Transient Survey team recorded the 1,500-year-old flare using the telescope's state-of the art high-frequency radio technology and sophisticated image analysis techniques. Identified by astronomer Dr. Steve Mairs, the original data was obtained using the JCMT's supercooled camera known as "SCUBA-2," which is kept at a frigid -459.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The flare is thought to be caused by a disruption in an intense magnetic field actively funneling material onto a young, growing star as it gains mass from its surroundings. The event occurred in one of the nearest star-forming regions to the Earth, the Orion Nebula. It lasted only a matter of hours.

Located near the summit of Maunakea, the JCMT is the largest and only telescope in the capable of making this type of . The stellar flare observation was made as part of a monthly tracking program from researchers from around the world who use the JCMT to observe nearly 1,000 nearby stars in the earliest stages of their formation.

Explore further: The JCMT celebrates 25 years on top of the world

More information: Steve Mairs et al. The JCMT Transient Survey: An Extraordinary Submillimeter Flare in the T Tauri Binary System JW 566, The Astrophysical Journal (2019). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aaf3b1

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6 comments

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Nik_2213
4.8 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2019
The link provided is pay-walled, but see: https://arxiv.org...12.00016

FWIW, I remember long and oft-bitter arguments over chrondites & chrondules, as their thermal histories seemed to need immense blasts of energy to re-work components. Much thought was given to triboelectric processes, magnetospheric shock-fronts etc etc, as sufficient input from even a big solar flare seemed implausible. Then some red dwarf stars and still-young stars were observed to mega-flare...

Even by that scale, though, this looks a 'Double Whopper With Cheese, Grilled'...
;-)
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2019
FWIW, I remember long and oft-bitter arguments over chrondites & chrondules, as their thermal histories seemed to need immense blasts of energy to re-work components. Much thought was given to triboelectric processes, magnetospheric shock-fronts etc etc, as sufficient input from even a big solar flare seemed implausible.


They are describing stellar flare effects on the young stars, dunno about what thermal effect a dilute flare would have on the disk. The main hypotheses is still "it's complex":

- tbctd-
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2019
"Although chondritic asteroids never became hot enough to melt based upon internal temperatures, many of them reached high enough temperatures that they experienced significant thermal metamorphism in their interiors. The source of the heat was most likely energy coming from the decay of short-lived radioisotopes (half-lives less than a few million years) that were present in the newly formed solar system, especially 26Al and 60Fe, although heating may have been caused by impacts onto the asteroids as well. .... In addition, all chondritic asteroids were affected by impact and shock processes due to collisions with other asteroids. These events caused a variety of effects, ranging from simple compaction to brecciation, veining, localized melting, and formation of high-pressure minerals. The net result of these secondary thermal, aqueous, and shock processes is that only a few known chondrites preserve in pristine form ..."
[ https://en.wikipe...hondrite ]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2019
Oy! I forgot to check the paper - flare details is not my cup of tea - but in this context I can see what prompted the comment. They note in the intro:

"Flash-heating from X-rays is a possible explanation for producing chondrites (Shu et al. 1997) and abundances of calcium-rich inclusions seen in meteorites (Sossi et al. 2017)."

Good point!
TrollBane
5 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2019
"flare 10 billion times more powerful than those on the sun"
Wow! That's even worse than my wife when I leave the seat up!
Nik_2213
not rated yet Feb 13, 2019
OT: @TB... c/o Slim Newton
https://www.flash...-seat-36
;-)

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