From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the extrasolar phenomenon on solar-type stars. For other uses, see Super flare (disambiguation).

Superflares are very strong explosions observed on solar-like stars with energy production rates at levels one million times or more than that of typical solar-like flares. The stars in this class satisfy conditions which should make them solar analogues, and would be expected to be stable over very long time scales.

It has been suggested[1] that these eruptions may be produced by the interaction of the star's magnetic field with the magnetic field of a putative Jupiter-like planet.

Superflare stars[edit]

A Superflare star is not the same as a Flare star, which usually refers to a very late spectral type red dwarf. The term is restricted to large transient events on stars that satisfy the following conditions:

  • The star is in spectral class F8 to G8
  • It is on or near the main sequence
  • It is single or part of a very wide binary
  • It is not a rapid rotator
  • It is not exceedingly young

Essentially such stars may be regarded as solar analogues. As of 2000, nine superflare stars have been found, some of them similar to the Sun.[1] The energy released during such a flare is 100 times to 10 million times that of the sun's largest coronal mass ejections.[1]


The original paper [2] identified nine candidate objects from a literature search:

Star Type Detector V (mag) Flare Amplitude Duration Energy (erg)
Groombridge 1830 G8 V Photography 6.45 ΔB = 0.62 mag 18 min EB ~ 1035
Kappa1 Ceti G5 V Spectroscopy 4.83 EW(He) = 0.13Å ~ 40 min E ~ 2 × 1034
MT Tauri G5 V Photography 16.8 ΔU = 0.7 mag ~ 10 min EU ~ 1035
Pi1 Ursae Majoris G1.5 Vb X-ray 5.64 LX = 1029 erg/s >~35 min EX = 2 × 1033
S Fornacis G1 V Visual 8.64 ΔV ~ 3 mag 17 - 367 min EV ~ 2 × 1038
BD +10°2783 G0 V X-ray 10.0 LX = 2 × 1031 erg/s ~ 49 min EX >> 3 × 1034
Omicron Aquilae F8 V Photometry 5.11 ΔV = 0.09 mag ~ 5 - 15 day EBV ~ 9 × 1037
5 Serpentis F8 IV-V Photometry 5.06 ΔV = 0.09 mag ~ 3 - 25 day EBV ~ 7 × 1037
UU Coronae Borealis F8 V Photometry 8.86 ΔI = 0.30 mag >~ 57 min Eopt ~ 7 × 1035

Type gives the spectral classification including spectral type and luminosity class.

V (mag) means the normal apparent visual magnitude of the star.

EW(He) is the equivalent width of the 5875.6Å He I D3 line seen in emission.

The observations vary for each object. Some are X-ray measurements, others are visual, photographic, spectroscopic or photometric. The energies for the events vary from 2 X 1033 to 2 X 1038 ergs.

Effects of a hypothetical superflare[edit]

Superflares increase the brightness of the star by up to 20 times its normal brightness and the luminosity by 1,000 times. They may last from a few hours to a week. The ozone layer of the Earth might be destroyed by the intense flow of charged particles produced by such a flare, and surface ice would melt on the daylight side of moons as distant from the sun as those of Jupiter, freezing again after the flare faded away. There is no evidence of superflares ever having occurred in the Solar System.[1]

In fiction[edit]

In the film, Knowing (2009), the world was destroyed by a superflare in a story that was loosely based on parts of the Bible.

In the Larry Niven short story "Inconstant Moon", a superflare devastates the day side of the Earth.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Rubenstein, Eric P.; Schaefer, Bradley E. (February 2000). "Are Superflares on Solar Analogues Caused by Extrasolar Planets?". The Astrophysical Journal ( American Astronomical Society) 529 (2): 1031–1033. arXiv:astro-ph/9909187. Bibcode:2000ApJ...529.1031R. doi:10.1086/308326. Lay summaryGroombridge 1830. 
  2. ^ Schaefer, King and Deliyannis [arXiv:astro-ph/9909188 "Superflares on Ordinary Solar-Type Stars"]