This ‘Nearby’ Star’s Eruption Could Endanger The Future of Life on Earth

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The sun is a predictable and stable star as it is good for the planets like ours that lie in the so-called Goldilocks zone where temperatures are not too hot or not too cold for the evolution of human-like life to take place. 

The sun’s core exceeds around 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15,000,000 degrees Celsius). Nuclear fusion inside the sun makes it energetic.

It is known that the energy from the sun is important to the intense gravitational pull exerted in the Sun’s core. One day, the energy will not be strong enough to keep this pull which will lead to the contraction of the sun. owing to increased heat and pressure due to contraction, nuclear fusion reactions will amplify.

This will lead to the sun’s atmosphere increasing 200 times and blocking the earth’s orbit. Also, a white dwarf will be formed from the gases given off. It will be massively luminous and compact, but not particularly conducive to enabling life on nearby planets. For a brief time, the frozen wastelands in the outer solar system — such as Europa and Titan — may become habitable, but life on Earth, if Earth isn’t already swallowed up by the expanding Sun, that is, would be burnt up. 

Scientists are studying a star that is around 111 light-years from Earth, known as EK Draconis. It’s a G-type yellow dwarf star just like the Sun and it can be used to retrieve information about the sun’s past, present, and future.

An international team of astronomers has observed coming from EK Draconis: a huge coronal mass ejection which are massively energetic bursts of highly magnetized plasma and radiation that occur due to instabilities in the Sun’s massive magnetic field.

CME

These ejections release gases that interfere with the sun’s magnetic field. They can travel from speeds as slow as 250 kilometers per second (km/s) to as fast as near 3000 km/s.

According to EarthSky, “The shock wave of charged particles compresses the Earth’s dayside magnetic field while the nightside gets stretched out. Like an elongated rubber band, the terrestrial magnetic field eventually snaps back with the same amount of energy as a bolt of lightning.”

The paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy is the culmination of more than 32 nights of observation between the winter and spring of 2020. Astronomers from the University of Colorado aimed two satellites — NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and Kyoto University’s SEIMEI Telescope — at the star system in hopes of witnessing a CME, and witness a CME they did!

EK Draconis

The star was witnessed giving off a glorious at speeds exceeding 994,194 miles (1.6 million kilometers) an hour.

“Such a superflare could, theoretically, also happen on Earth’s sun but not very often, maybe once every several thousand years. Still, it got Notsu’s team curious: Could a superflare also lead to an equally super coronal mass ejection?”

“It may also not bode well for life on Earth: The team’s findings hint that the sun could also be capable of such violent extremes. But don’t hold your breath — like superflares, super coronal mass ejections are probably rare around our getting-on-in-years sun.”

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