Sunday 26 May 2024

Cosmic Fireworks: The Fascinating World of Solar Flares - Yashraj Sharma


What are Solar Storms?

Solar storms occur when the Sun emits enormous bursts of energy through solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). These phenomena send a stream of electrical charges and magnetic fields toward the Earth at about 3 million miles per hour!

  • What are solar flares and CMEs?

A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation caused by the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. It is one of the most significant explosive events in our solar system. Flares are seen as bright areas on the Sun and can last minutes to hours.

Coronal Mass Ejections are large plasma and magnetic field expulsions from the Sun's corona (outermost layer).

Effects of the Solar Storm on Earth

  1. Public and amateur radio (used by citizens) is frequently disrupted. Communications, navigation, and even land surveying via land, water, and air use global positioning systems (GPS) to determine routes and locations based on satellite radio waves. These waves are disrupted and/or interrupted by the geomagnetic waves from the Sun.

  1. Blackouts and power outages 

If a significant solar storm were to hit the Earth, the worst-case scenario would be the damaged power grids, resulting in blackouts. The geomagnetic currents induced by a solar storm can overload power grids and potentially cause transformers to fail, leading to widespread power outages. 

           One example of such a black is the Canadian blackout of 1989

This geomagnetic storm occurred on March 13, 1989. It caused a nine-hour outage of Hydro-Québec's (largest power utility in Canada and a significant player in the global hydropower industry) electricity transmission system.

The ever-so-mesmerizing ‘Northern Lights’

Earth’s magnetic field shields our planet against solar flares and CMEs. 

When a solar flare reaches Earth, as it is about to collide, it meets with the magnetic field and spirals around it. It then goes down into the poles of the Earth. This area is known as the 'Aurora Oval.' When these flares collide with the atmosphere's particles, they excite and cause them to rush. This excitement causes the particles to light up!

Hence, giving us wavy patterns and 'curtains' of light, these are commonly known as ‘Auroras

Yashraj Sharma

Gyanshree School

Compiled from reading and sourced from references on Google Search.


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