This Massive Stellar Flare Would Have Been Catastrophic for Nearby Planets

Not too far away, a small star recently unleashed an unexpectedly intense series of flares. The series kicked off with a behemoth eruption that was 10,000 times more powerful than anything ever recorded from the sun. For a few brief moments, the star blazed many times brighter than normal.

Another half-dozen flares and two weeks later, the episode ended. But the explosive cluster had been hotter, more powerful, and longer-lasting than scientists had expected to see. It would definitely not be good news for any planets orbiting close to the tempestuous star.

The star is a young red dwarf that is only about one-third the sun's mass. It's part ...

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