New York, April 22nd
Scientists have observed the largest rocket ever recorded from the Sun’s closest neighbor, the star Proxima Centauri.
Proxima Centauri is a small but strong star. It is only four light-years or more than 20 billion miles from its own Sun and is home to at least two planets, one of which could look something like Earth.It is also a “red dwarf,” the name of a class of stars that are unusually small and weak, explained Meredith MacGregor, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder.
For the new study, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the team observed Proxima Centauri for 40 hours using nine ground and space telescopes.
They discovered that Proxima Centauri expelled a rocket or a radiation explosion that begins near the surface of a star, which ranks as one of the most violent seen anywhere in the galaxy. The flame was about 100 times stronger than any similar flame seen from the Earth’s sun. Over time, such energy can remove a planet’s atmosphere and even expose life forms to deadly radiation.
“The star went from normal to 14,000 times brighter when it was seen in ultraviolet wavelengths within seconds,” MacGregor said.
The team’s findings suggest a new physics that could change the way scientists think about stellar flames. It also does not present well to any squishy organism brave enough to live near the volatile star.
Instruments included the Hubble Space Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array and NASA’s exoplanet transit satellite. Five of them recorded the massive explosion at Proxima Centauri, surprising the event because it produced a wide spectrum of radiation.
The technique delivered one of the deepest anatomies of a flame from any star in the galaxy. Although it did not produce much visible light, it generated a huge increase in both ultraviolet and radio radiation, or “millimeter” radiation.
“In the past, we didn’t know that stars could ignite within a millimeter, so this is the first time we’re looking for millimeter missiles,” MacGregor said.
These millimeter signals, MacGregor added, could help researchers gather more information about how stars generate missiles. IANS