Flaring Red Dwarf Star
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Flaring Red Dwarf Star

January 15, 2011
This is an artist's concept of a red dwarf star undergoing a powerful eruption, called a stellar flare. A hypothetical planet is in the foreground.

Flares are sudden eruptions of heated plasma that occur when the field lines of powerful magnetic fields in a star's atmosphere "reconnect," snapping like a rubber band and releasing vast amounts of energy equivalent to the power of 100 million atomic bombs exploding simultaneously.

Studying the light from 215,000 older red dwarfs collected in observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers found 100 stellar flares popping off over the course of a week.

Artwork credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Kowalski (University of Washington), R. Osten and K. Sahu (STScI), and S. Hawley (University of Washington)

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