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James Clerk Maxwell Telescope detects flare 10 billion times more powerful than those on the sun

Credit: James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

The Hawaii-based James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) has discovered a stellar flare 1

0 billion times more powerful than the sun's sunspots, a historic discovery that can unlock decades of old questions about the origin of our own sun and planets, providing insight into how these celestial bodies were born.

"A discovery of this greatness could only have happened in Hawaii," says Dr. Steve Mairs, astronomer and leading investigator for the team that discovered the star-catcher. "By using JCMT we study the birth of nearby stars as a way of understanding the history of our own solar system. Observation of flares around the youngest stars is new territory and it gives us important insights into the physical conditions of these systems. The way we work on responding to people's most enduring issues of space, time and universe surrounding us. "The JCMT Transient Survey team recorded the 1500-year-old flare using the state of the art technology's high-frequency radio technology and sophisticated image analysis techniques. Identified by astronomer Dr. Steve Mairs, the original data was obtained using JCMT's super-cooled camera, known as "SCUBA-2", which is held at a -459.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The flare is considered to be caused by a disturbance in an intense magnetic field that actively tracks material on a young, growing star, as it receives lots from the surroundings. The event occurred in one of the nearest star-forming regions to the earth, the Orion Nebula. It only lasted a few hours.

Located near the top of Maunakea, JCMT is the largest and only telescope in the northern hemisphere that can make this type of discovery. Stellar flare observation was done as part of a monthly tracking program from scientists from around the world using JCMT to observe nearly 1,000 nearby stars in the earliest stages of their formation.

Explore further:
JCMT celebrates 25 years at the top of the world

More information:
Steve Mairs et al. JCMT Transient Survey: An Extraordinary Submillimeter Flare in T Tauri Binary System JW 566, Astrophysical Journal (2019). DOI: 10.3847 / 1538-4357 / aaf3b1

Journal reference:
Astrophysical magazine

Provided by:
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

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