The star, known as EV Lacertae, isnít much to write home about. Itís a run-of-the-mill red dwarf, by far the most common type of star in the universe. It shines with only one percent of the Sunís light, and contains only a third of the Sunís mass. At a distance of only 16 light-years, EV Lacertae is one of our closest stellar neighbors. But with its feeble light output, its faint magnitude-10 glow is far below naked-eye visibility.
"Hereís a small, cool star that shot off a monster flare. This star has a record of producing flares, but this one takes the cake," says Rachel Osten, a Hubble Fellow at the University of Maryland, College Park and NASAís Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Flares like this would deplete the atmospheres of life-bearing planets, sterilizing their surfaces."