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NASA Spots 'Megaflare' 10,000 Times More Powerful Than Any Ever Recorded (60 Light Years Away)

01/10/2014 11:40 BST | Updated 01/10/2014 11:59 BST

NASA has spotted a solar flare more than 10,000 times more powerful than any on record.

The so-called Megaflare would have the potential to knock out the entire digital communications network, power grids and transport systems around the world if it hit the Earth.

Fortunately it won't, because it erupted from a star located 60 light years away.

DG Canum Venaticorum is a binary star system (two stars orbiting each other) a long, long way from Earth. Both of the stars in the system are red dwarf stars, which are smaller, much younger and less massive than our sun.

But while they are small, they are volatile. NASA scientists said that they spotted a solar flare from the system recently, which at its peak reached 200 million degrees C (or 12 times hotter than the centre of the sun).

Of course the flare actually erupted decades ago - it's just that it's taken this long for the light to reach Earth.

Nasa said the flare was a "very complex" event, but occurred for roughly the same reason as solar flares do in our solar system - magnetic fields in the star twisting like an elastic band, which accumulate energy and then release it in a single explosive eruption.

"This system is poorly studied because it wasn't on our watch list of stars capable of producing large flares," said Rachel Osten, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

"We had no idea DG CVn had this in it."