Red Dwarf Star’s Mighty ‚Hazflare‘ Could Be Bad News for Alien Life

Artist’s illustration of a flaring red dwarf stripping away the atmosphere of an orbiting planet. Credit: D. Player (STScl)/NASA/ESA
Another red dwarf has been caught firing off a superpowerful flare, further bolstering the notion that life might have a hard time taking root around these small, dim stars.

By Mike Wall |

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spied the superflare coming from a red dwarf called J02365, which lies about 130 light-years from Earth, a new study reports. The outburst featured about 10^32 ergs of energy in the far-ultraviolet realm of the electromagnetic spectrum, making it more powerful than any of our own sun’s recorded flares, study team members said.

„When I realized the sheer amount of light the superflare emitted, I sat looking at my computer screen for quite some time just thinking, ‚Whoa,'“ study lead author Parke Loyd, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, said in a statement. [The Sun’s Wrath: Worst Solar Storms in History]

Loyd and his colleagues dubbed this monster the „Hazflare,“ after the name of the Hubble observing program that detected it. That program is HAZMAT, short for „Habitable Zones and M Dwarf Activity across Time.“

HAZMAT is surveying red dwarfs, which are also known as M dwarfs, of three different ages: young (about 40 million years old), medium (about 650 million years) and old (several billion years). The goal is to better understand the habitability of the planets that circle red dwarfs.

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