Scientists spotted a superflare larger than some of the hugest solar storms on record—from what seems to be a tiny, almost Jupiter-sized star.
The Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS), a sky-surveying telescope in Chile, first detected the flare on 13 August 2017.
Not only is it the second-largest observed flare to come from a star of the “L-dwarf” type, but this is the coolest star to show this kind of powerful flare to date.
The star, called ULAS J224940.13−011236.9, is an L-dwarf, a red star approximately 250 light-years away that’s only 10 per cent the radius of the Sun.
It’s burning at temperatures of only 1,930 degrees Kelvin—around the temperature of a blowtorch’s flame.
Stars like this are too cold for the NGTS to detect—until one of them lets out a gigantic flare that appears in the survey.