Tiny, but Angry! A Small Star’s Tremendous Outburst is Astonishing the Scientists

One basic rule of the Universe is to never underestimate an object because of its size. You might never know what a star, planet, or regular space rock could be capable of. The most recent example is the J0331-27 star, an L dwarf. This is a very small category of stars.

J0331-27 is only 8% of our sun’s mass, but it turns out to be pretty pumped up. The little star has thrown into space a huge flare of X-rays that were over 10 times more powerful than the most intense flare blasted onward by our sun.

Scientists didn’t think it’s possible

For such a small star to shoot away such a high amount of X-rays, it’s unbelievable by the astronomers. Beate Stelzer, astrophysicist and co-author on a new paper describing the event, confirms is very clear:

This is the most interesting scientific part of the discovery, because we did not expect L-dwarf stars to store enough energy in their magnetic fields to give rise to such outbursts,

Being of the rare type of stars called ‘L dwarf’, the angry little star has a low temperature at its surface: only 2100K. Scientists did not think it’s possible for such a low temperature to generate enough charged particles that can nurture so much energy into the magnetic field.

No explanation yet

How such an enormous and powerful outburst is possible on such a star seems like the question of a lifetime. Even Beate Stelzer admits that there’s no scientific explanation yet:

That’s a good question. We just don’t know—nobody knows.

Proving that the unexpected happened, the study shows us once again that science still has plenty more to learn about our Universe in general, and about stars in particular.

The J0331-27 star’s outburst was discovered by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory twelve years ago, back in 2008.

A paper about the research was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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