Researchers: Sun could produce disastrous 'superflares'

New research from the University of Warwick suggests the Sun is capable of producing a 'superflare' that, should it ever happen, could take down communications and electrical grids on Earth. This stems from a superflare spotted by NASA's Keplar space telescope that was found to have similar patterns to less powerful solar flares. A superflare has the same amount of energy as a billion megaton bombs.

Though superflares are described as frequent on some stars, one has never been recorded on the Sun. That doesn't mean it's not impossible that one could happen, at least according to the new research. The researchers point toward KIC9655129, a binary star, and its superflares' similarities to less powerful solar flares that take place on our Sun.

The study's lead researcher Chloe Pugh discussed the possible result should the Sun ever produce a superflare.

If the Sun were to produce a superflare it would be disastrous for life on Earth; our GPS and radio communication systems could be severely disrupted and there could be large scale power blackouts as a result of strong electrical currents being induced in power grids.

The energy equivalent of a solar flare can be as much as 100 million megaton bombs. While very powerful, a superflare obviously greatly eclipses that with its' billion megaton bombs equivalency. However, the odds of the Sun actually producing a superflare are very low. Said Pugh:

Fortunately the conditions needed for a superflare are extremely unlikely to occur on the Sun, based on previous observations of solar activity.

SOURCE: Science Daily