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Team of scientists led by CU Boulder observe largest ever recorded stellar flare

Proxima Centauri is four light years or more than 20 trillion miles from our sun.

BOULDER, Colo. — A seven-second stellar flare recorded by a team of scientists led by the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) could help frame the way scientists search for life beyond our solar system. 

The flare -- 100 times more powerful than any similar flare on the Earth's Sun -- occurred on May 1, 2019, and was observed on our sun's nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which is four light years or more than 20 trillion miles from our sun. 

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Recently, the team published its research in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and argued this flare could change the way scientists observe, understand and research stellar flares.

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"The star went from normal to 14,000 times brighter when seen in ultraviolet wavelengths over the span of a few seconds," said Meredith MacGregor, an assistant professor at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy and Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at CU Boulder.

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Proxima Centauri is currently classified as a "red dwarf" planet and has approximately 1/8th the mass of our Sun. But despite its smaller size, it is considered a "mighty star," MacGregor said. 

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