Astronomy Reports

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 72–80 | Cite as

Can Superflares Occur on the Sun? A View from Dynamo Theory

  • M. M. Katsova
  • L. L. Kitchatinov
  • M. A. Livshits
  • D. L. Moss
  • D. D. Sokoloff
  • I. G. Usoskin


Recent data from the Kepler mission has revealed the occurrence of superflares in Sun-like stars which exceed by far any observed solar flares in released energy. Radionuclide data do not provide evidence for occurrence of superflares on the Sun over the past eleven millennia. Stellar data for a subgroup of superflaring Kepler stars are analysed in an attempt to find possible progenitors of their abnormal magnetic activity. A natural idea is that the dynamo mechanism in superflaring stars differs in some respect from that in the Sun. We search for a difference in the dynamo-related parameters between superflaring stars and the Sun to suggest a dynamo mechanism as close as possible to the conventional solar/stellar dynamo but capable of providing much higher magnetic energy. Dynamo based on joint action of differential rotation and mirror asymmetric motions can in principle result in excitation of two types of magnetic fields. First of all, it is well-known in solar physics dynamo waves. The point is that another magnetic configuration with initial growth and further stabilisation can also be excited. For comparable conditions, magnetic field of second configuration is much stronger than that of the first one just because dynamo does not spend its energy for periodic magnetic field inversions but uses it for magnetic field growth. We analysed available data from the Kepler mission concerning the superflaring stars in order to find tracers of anomalous magnetic activity. As suggested in a recent paper [1], we find that anti-solar differential rotation or anti-solar sign of the mirror-asymmetry of stellar convection can provide the desired strong magnetic field in dynamo models. We confirm this concept by numerical models of stellar dynamos with corresponding governing parameters. We conclude that the proposed mechanism can plausibly explain the superflaring events at least for some cool stars, including binaries, subgiants and, possibly, low-mass stars and young rapid rotators.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    L. L. Kitchatinov and S. V. Olemskoy, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 459, 4353 (2016).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. G. Koch, W. J. Borucki, G. Basri, N. M. Batalha, et al., Astrophys. J. 713, L79 (2010).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    H. Maehara, T. Shibayama, S. Notsu, Y. Notsu, et al., Nature 485, 478 (2012).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    T. Shibayama, H. Maehara, S. Notsu, Y. Notsu, et al., Astrophys. J. Suppl. 209, 5 (2013).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    D. Nogami, Y. Notsu, S. Honda, H. Maehara, et al., Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn. 66, L4 (2014).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    G. Aulanier, P. Démoulin, C. J. Schrijver, M. Janvier, E. Pariat, and B. Schmieder, Astron. Astrophys. 549, id. A66 (2013).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    I. G. Usoskin, B. Kromer, F. Ludlow, J. Beer, M. Friedrich, G. A. Kovaltsov, S. K. Solanki, and L. Wacker, Astron. Astrophys. 552, L3 (2013).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    F. Mekhaldi, R. Muscheler, F. Adolphi, A. Aldahan, et al., Nat. Commun. 6, 8611 (2015).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    K. Shibata, H. Isobe, A. Hiller, A. R. Choudhuri, et al., Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn. 65, 49 (2013).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    H. S. Hudson, Nat. Phys. 6, 637 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    C. J. Schrijver, J. Beer, U. Baltensperger, E. W. Cliver, et al., J. Geophys. Res., Space Phys. 117, A08103 (2012).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    G. A. Kovaltsov and I. G. Usoskin, Solar Phys. 289, 211 (2014).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    S. Candelaresi, A. Hillier, H. Maehara, A. Brandenburg, and K. Shibata, Astrophys. J. 792, 67 (2014).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    L. A. Balona and O. P. Abedigamba, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 461, 497 (2016).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    J. Beer, K. McCracken, and R. von Steiger, Cosmogenic Radionuclides: Theory and Applications in the Terrestrial and Space Enviroments (Springer, Berlin, 2012).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    I. G. Usoskin, Living Rev. Solar. Phys. 14, 3 (2017).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    I. G. Usoskin, S. K. Solanki, G. A. Kovaltsov, J. Beer, and B. Kromer, Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, 8107 (2006).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    F. Miyake, K. Nagaya, K. Masuda, and T. Nakamura, Nature 486, 240 (2012).ADSGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    I. G. Usoskin and G. A. Kovaltsov, Astrophys. J. 757, 92 (2012).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    A. J. T. Jull, I. P. Panyushkina, T. E. Lange, V. V. Kukarskih, et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, 3004 (2014).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    D. Güttler, F. Adolphi, J. Beer, N. Bleicher, et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 411, 290 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    M. Sigl, M. Winstrup, J. R. McConnell, K. C. Welten, et al., Nature 523, 543 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    F. Miyake, K. Masuda, and T. Nakamura, Nat. Commun. 4, 1748 (2013).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    E. W. Cliver and W. F. Dietrich, J. Space Weath. Space Climat 3, A31 (2013).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    F. Miyake, A. J. T. Jull, I. P. Panyushkina, L. Wacker, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 114, 881 (2017).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    T. Sukhodolov, I. Usoskin, E. Rozanov, et al., Sci. Rep. 7, 45257 (2017).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    M. A. Livshits, G. V. Rudenko, M. M. Katsova, and I. I. Myshyakov, Adv. Space Res. 55, 920 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    S. C. Marsden, P. Petit, S. V. Jeffers, J. Morin, et al., Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 444, 3517 (2014).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    M. M. Katsova and M. A. Livshits, Solar Phys. 290, 3663 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    F. Krause and K.-H. Rädler, Mean-Field Magnetohydrodynamics and Dynamo Theory (Akademie, Berlin, 1980).zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    D. Moss, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 306, 300 (1999).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    L. Jouve, A. S. Brun, R. Arlt, A. Brandenburg, et al., Astron. Astrophys. 483, 949 (2008).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    L. L. Kitchatinov, Astron. Lett. 28, 626 (2002).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    L. A. Balona, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 447, 2714 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    P. Baize, J. Obs. 37, 73 (1954).ADSGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    T. Reinhold, A. Reiners, and G. Basri, Astron. Astrophys. 560, A4 (2013).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    L. A. Balona, A.-M. Broomhall, A. Kosovichev, V. M. Nakariakov, C. E. Pugh, and T. Doorsselaere, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 450, 956 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    C. E. Pugh, D. J. Armstrong, V. M. Nakariakov, and A.-M. Broomhall, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 459, 3659 (2016).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    W.-C. Chen, X.-D. Li, and S.-B. Qian, Astrophys. J. 649, 973 (2006).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    D. Moss and I. Tuominen, Astron. Astrophys. 321, 151 (1998).ADSGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    D. Moss, N. Piskunov, and D. Sokoloff, Astron. Astrophys. 396, 885 (2002).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    K. G. Strassmeier, in Stars as Suns: Activity, Evolution and Planets, Proceedings of the 219th IAU Symposium, Ed. by A. K. Dupree and A. O. Benz (ASP, San Francisco, 2004), p. 11.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    B. B. Karak, P. J. Käpylä, M. J. Käpylä, A. Brandenburg, N. Olspert, and J. Pelt, Astron. Astrophys. 576, A26 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    H. Maehara, Y. Notsu, S. Notsu, K. Namekata, S. Honda, T. T. Ishii, D. Nogami, and K. Shibata, arXiv:1702.07141 (2017).Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    L. L. Kitchatinov and S. V. Olemskoy, Res. Astron. Astrophys. 15, 1801 (2015).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    E. Distefano, A. C. Lanzafame, A. F. Lanza, S. Messina, and F. Spada, Astron. Astrophys. 591, A43 (2016).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    E. Nagel, S. Czesla, and J. H. M. M. Schmitt, Astron. Astrophys. 590, A47 (2016).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    M. M. Katsova, M. A. Livshits, W. Soon, S. L. Baliunas, and D. D. Sokoloff, New Astron. 15, 274 (2010).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    M. M. Katsova, M. A. Livshits, T. V. Mishenina, and B. A. Nizamov, in Proceedings of the 19th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun, Uppsala, Sweden, June 6–10, 2016 (2016), id. 124.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. M. Katsova
    • 1
  • L. L. Kitchatinov
    • 2
    • 3
  • M. A. Livshits
    • 4
  • D. L. Moss
    • 5
  • D. D. Sokoloff
    • 6
  • I. G. Usoskin
    • 7
  1. 1.Sternberg State Astronomical InstituteLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Institute for Solar-Terrestrial PhysicsIrkutskRussia
  3. 3.Pulkovo Astronomical ObservatorySt. PetersburgRussia
  4. 4.IZMIRANMoscowRussia
  5. 5.School of MathematicsUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  6. 6.Department of PhysicsMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  7. 7.Space Climate Research Unit and Sodankylä Geophysical ObservatoryUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

Personalised recommendations