Could We Be Incinerated By A Giant Flare From Our Sun?
It often happens that, during conferences or even simple chats between friends, the classic question emerges “but how sure are we that from one day to another our Sun does not reserve us some bad joke?”
To answer usually invokes the fact that currently, the Sun is going through the most “quiet” phase of its way, but the doubt is hard to fade.
What concrete elements do we have that lead us to exclude that quiet main sequence stars like the Sun cannot manifest – let’s say every few tens of thousands of years – sudden flashes of prolonged instability, in the form of explosive flares or abrupt changes in the amount of energy emitted? The thing, as you can imagine, could in both cases not be pleasant for our planet…
And what does the current knowledge of stellar evolution tell us about the variation of the solar constant or the intensity of the solar wind? What are the limits suggested by the current evolutionary theories and, above all, how much these limits actually put us safe from dramatic consequences here on Earth?
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