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Kepler Telescope Studies Star Superflares

from BBC News Online

Nasa's Kepler space telescope has provided fresh insight on the colossal explosions that can afflict some stars. These enormous releases of magnetic energy--known as superflares--could damage the atmosphere of a nearby orbiting planet, putting at risk any lifeforms that might reside there.

Fortunately, Kepler shows superflares to be much less frequent on slow-rotating stars like our Sun. The new observations are reported in the journal Nature.

The biggest recorded flare on the Sun was probably the "Carrington event" of 1 September 1859. Described by the English astronomer Richard Carrington, this outburst sent a surge of electromagnetic radiation and charged particles towards the Earth.

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