News Release Archive:

News Release 273 of 1051

January 10, 2011 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2011-02

NASA's Hubble Finds that Puny Stars Pack a Big Punch


Image: Flaring Red Dwarf Star

Flaring Red Dwarf StarSTScI-PRC2011-02 Artist's Concept

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This is an artist's concept of a red dwarf star undergoing a powerful eruption, called a stellar flare. A hypothetical planet is in the foreground.

Flares are sudden eruptions of heated plasma that occur when the field lines of powerful magnetic fields in a star's atmosphere "reconnect," snapping like a rubber band and releasing vast amounts of energy equivalent to the power of 100 million atomic bombs exploding simultaneously.

Studying the light from 215,000 dwarfs collected in observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers found 100 stellar flares popping off over the course of a week.

Image Type: Artwork

Artwork credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Kowalski (University of Washington), R. Osten and K. Sahu (STScI), and S. Hawley (University of Washington)