Flare on ultra fast rotating star might help in understanding the youth of our Sun

December 20th, 2007 - 3:19 pm ICT by admin  

Munich, Dec 20 (ANI): Astronomers have detected a flare on an ultra-fast rotating star located 150 light years away, using observations from ESOs (European Southern Observatory) VLT (Very Large Telescope).

Nicknamed ‘Speedy Mic’ because of its fast rotation, this particular star will help scientists better understand the youth of our Sun.

With an age of only about 30 million years, this star is roughly 150 times younger than the Sun.

“It is very likely that our young Sun was such a fast rotator as well,” said Uwe Wolter, lead author of the paper relating the discovery. “Studying Speedy Mic is thus like observing our own host star while still in its infancy and so, better understand how the eruptions on the young Sun affected the planets, he added.

According to Wolter, these studies may also contribute to the understanding of current solar eruptions that can cause havoc in our telecommunications and power distributions.

The images of the surface of the star were reconstructed using a technique called Doppler Imaging, which detected the presence of several spots. A few are near the visible pole, while most spots are asymmetrically distributed at mid-latitudes.

“The image we could secure of Speedy Mic is, given its distance, a real prowess, that allows us to localise for the first time ever the source of a flare and its surrounding,” said Wolter.

The X-ray observations indeed identified several flares, which are sudden and vast releases of energy. For one of them, the astronomers could pinpoint its origin on the surface of the star. The flare, lasting about 4 hours, was a hundred times more energetic than a large solar flare and considerably larger than solar coronal loops.

But according to the team, the surprising finding was the location of the flare. Thats because contrary to our Sun, the site of the observed flare does not correspond to the detected spots.

“Interestingly, the flare occurs on a rather inconspicuous portion of the star’s surface, away from the main concentration of activity in terms of dark spots,” explains Wolter. (ANI)

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