Capturing a Superflare: The Fury of Massive, High-Velocity Prominence Eruptions

Researchers from Kyoto University were able to photograph a superflare on the binary star system V1355 Orionis using both terrestrial and satellite data. A large prominence eruption that may have caused Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) signaled the start of the superflare. The research, which was published in The Astrophysical Journal, sheds fresh light on how superflares occur and how they can affect planetary and life history.

A group of Japanese astronomers simultaneously observed a superflare on a star from the ground and from space to get a more thorough image of it. The flare that was noticed began with a tremendous, fast-erupting prominence. These findings help us understand how superflares and stellar prominence explosions take place.

Superflares from some stars have been observed that are more than ten times bigger than the biggest solar flare ever observed on the Sun. Space weather is a term used to describe how solar flares' hot, ionized plasma affects the atmosphere surrounding the Earth. The evolution of any planets that form orbiting the star, or the evolution of any life that forms on those planets, must be significantly impacted by more intense superflares. However, it is unclear exactly how superflares and prominence eruptions on stars happen.

The 3.8-m Seimei Telescope in Japan and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) were utilized by a team at Kyoto University led by Shun Inoue to keep an eye on the binary star system V1355 Orionis, which is known to routinely produce large-scale superflares. 400 light-years distant in the constellation of Orion is V1355 Orionis.

The team's continuous, high temporal resolution measurements were successful in catching a superflare. Data analysis reveals that the prominence eruption, which is a phenomena, is where the superflare started. Even the most conservative estimates far exceed the star's escape velocity (347 km/s), demonstrating that the prominence eruption was capable of escaping the star's gravity and evolving into Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). Calculating the eruption's velocity requires making some assumptions about aspects that aren't directly observable. The prominence eruption, which carried billions of tons of material, was also one of the largest ever seen.

The Astrophysical Journal published these findings on April 27, 2023 as "Detection of a high-velocity prominence eruption leading to a CME associated with a superflare on the RS CVn-type star V1355 Orionis" by Inoue et al.