V2487 Oph is a recurrent nova with detected eruptions in 1900 and 1998. Startlingly, V2487 Oph shows flares, called ‘Superflares’, with up to 1.10 mag amplitude, fast rises of under one-minute, always with an initial impulsive spike followed by a roughly exponential tail, typically one-hour durations, and with random event times averaging once-per-day. The typical flare energy E is over 1038 erg, while the yearly energy budget is 1041 erg. V2487 Oph Superflares obey three relations; the number distribution of flare energies scales as E−2.34 ± 0.35, the waiting time from one flare to the next is proportional to E of the first event, and flare durations scale as E0.44 ± 0.03. Scenarios involving gravitational energy and nuclear energy fail to satisfy the three relations. The magnetic energy scenario, however, can explain all three relations. This scenario has magnetic field lines above the disc being twisted and amplified by the motions of their footprints, with magnetic reconnection releasing energy that comes out as Superflare light. This exact mechanism is already well known to occur in white light solar flares, in ordinary M-type flare stars, and in the many Superflare stars observed all across the H-R diagram. Superflares on Superflare stars have rise times, light-curve shapes, and durations that are very similar to those on V2487 Oph. So we conclude that the V2487 Oph Superflares are caused by large-scale magnetic reconnection. V2487 Oph is now the most extreme Superflare star, exhibiting the largest known flare energy (1.6 × 1039 erg) and the fastest occurrence rate.
Magnetic reconnection converts, often explosively, stored magnetic energy to particle energy in space and in the laboratory. Through processes operating on length scales that are tiny, it facilitates energy conversion over dimensions of, in some cases, hundreds of Earth radii. In addition, it is the mechanism behind large current disruptions in fusion machines, and it can explain eruptive behavior in astrophysics. We have known about the importance of magnetic reconnection for quite some time based on space observations. Theory and modeling employed magnetized fluids, a very simplistic description. While successful at modeling the large‐scale consequences of reconnection, it is ill suited to describe the engine itself. This is because, at its heart, magnetic reconnection in space is kinetic, that is, governed by the intricate interaction of charged particles with the electromagnetic fields they create. This complex interaction occurs in very localized regions and involves very short temporal variations. Researching reconnection requires the ability to measure these processes as well as to express them in models vastly more complex than fluid approaches. Until very recently, neither of these capabilities existed. With the advent of NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission and modern modeling advances, this has now changed, and we have now determined its small‐scale structure in exquisite detail. In this paper, we review recent research results to predict what will be achieved in the future. We discuss how reconnection contributes to the evolution of larger‐scale systems, and its societal impacts in the context of threatening space hazards, customarily referred to as “space weather.”more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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