Stellar Activity

A brief flash from our closest neighbor

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Science  27 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6387, pp. 394-395
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6387.394-f

Proxima Centauri, a small red dwarf, is the closest star to us other than the Sun. It hosts an exoplanet that may be about Earth's mass and might lie in the habitable zone, but many red dwarfs have frequent stellar flares that could strip away a planet's atmosphere. MacGregor et al. investigated millimeter-wavelength observations of Proxima Centauri, discovering that they contain a bright flare lasting less than a minute. Such short-duration millimeter-wavelength flaring has not previously been recognized and casts doubt on previous claims of dust lanes and asteroid belts in the system. Its effect on habitability is unknown.

Astrophys. J. 855, L2 (2018).

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