At present, we all know that the sun is about to enter the maximum period of solar activity. That means it's more active, with lots of sunspots, CMEs and flares.
However, fortunately for us, the Sun is not as active as the members of the V1355 Orionis binary star system. One of the stars periodically unleashes a superflare. They are ten times larger than the largest solar flare ever recorded.
On Earth, flares from the sun often cause geomagnetic storms (often called space weather). At worst, these storms can interfere with our technology. They can disrupt communications, shut down power grids, and disrupt satellites.
Really powerful flares, like the one from V1355 Orion, can have far worse effects. This includes affecting the evolution of nearby planets and their atmospheres. Of course, if they were powerful enough, such flares could wipe out any life on these worlds in an instant. Therefore, it is important to understand flares on stars and why they occur.
A team of astronomers led by Shun Inoue of Kyoto University in Japan monitored the binary system using the 3.8-meter (12.5-foot) Seimei Telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). They managed to capture a superflare that began with a large, high-velocity prominence. This is one of the star's most powerful eruptions.
The velocity of the eruption was at least 990 kilometers per second (615 miles), far exceeding the star's escape velocity of 347 kilometers per second. It developed into a coronal mass ejection, carrying trillions of tons of matter into space.
Above: A massive flare (called a superflare) observed on a star in the V1355 Orionis binary star system. The binary companion can be seen in the background on the right.
Learn about the flare of Orion V1355
The team's measurements are designed to help astronomers understand how superflares and eruptions start. The V1355 Orionis system is classified as a RS-CVn type star. This classification comes from the RS Canum Venaticorum system, a variable star containing tight binaries.
These constantsStars have typical magnetic activity, and huge superflares erupt on their surfaces. They also often have large sunspots. There are different subpopulations of these galaxies, including flare stars like V1355 Orionis. Some are quite bright in X-rays and radio frequencies.
The V1355 Orionis binary system contains both K-type stars and G-type stars. K star is a subgiant star and the source of superflares. These observations suggest that more modeling and simulations of the prominences of such stars are needed, especially in binary star systems. Among other things, it is important to better understand how much mass stars lose in prominences and related coronal mass ejections.
V1355 Orioni's superflares help understand not only how they occur, but also the mechanisms by which prominences and flares are produced on the Sun. Further observations will help determine exactly what is happening to the surfaces and magnetic fields of both types of stars.