Superflares and Giant Planets
The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and affiliates.
If you are an active member, affiliate or individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article. Be sure you've entered your member or subscriber number on your profile page.
If you are not a member, affiliate or individual subscriber, you can:
Nine solar analogues, stars similar in size and composition to the Sun, are known to have produced enormous flares. These outbursts, which were from 100 to 10 million times the size of even the largest solar flares, have puzzled astronomers, because sunlike stars should in theory vary little in brightness. A likely explanation is that these stars have unseen planetary companions circling in close orbits. Giant planets with large magnetic fields would, over time, entangle the magnetic fields of the
parent stars. Eventually, the stretched and twisted magnetic-field lines would break and reattach themselves in a less complicated arrangement. This process, called magnetic reconnection, neatly explains how vast amounts
of energy can be released so suddenly from superflaring