Observation of a possible superflare on Proxima Centauri

Kielkopf, John F. and Hart, Rhodes and Carter, Bradley D. and Marsden, Stephen C. (2019) Observation of a possible superflare on Proxima Centauri. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters, 486 (1). L31-L35. ISSN 0035-8711

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Abstract

We report the observation on UT 2017 July 1 of an unusually powerful flare detected in near-infrared continuum photometry of Proxima Centauri. During a campaign monitoring the star for possible exoplanet transits, we identified an increase in Sloan i' flux leading to an observed peak at BJD 2457935.996 that was at least 10 per cent over pre-flare flux in this band. It was followed by a two-component rapid decline in the first 100 s that became a slower exponential decay with time constant of 1350 s. A smaller flare event 1300 s after the first added an incremental peak flux increase of 1 per cent of pre-flare flux. Since the onset of the flare was not fully time resolved at a cadence of 62 s, its actual peak value is unknown but greater than the time average over a single exposure of 20 s. The i' band is representative of broad optical and near-IR continuum flux over which the integrated energy of the flare is 100 times the stellar luminosity. This meets the criteria that established the concept of superflares on similar stars. The resulting implied ultraviolet flux and space weather could have had an extreme effect on the atmospheres of planets within the star's otherwise habitable zone.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences - Centre for Astrophysics (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Sciences (6 Sept 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2020 07:07
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2020 05:45
Uncontrolled Keywords: planets and satellites: detection – stars: flare – stars: low-mass
Fields of Research : 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020110 Stellar Astronomy and Planetary Systems
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1093/mnrasl/slz054
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/37367

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