Solar storms

Solar storms are a natural occurrence caused by high-energy particles hitting the Earth.These clouds of particles are released in explosive outbursts from the Sun.

With the Sun in an active part of its cycle, there are concerns that some storms could disrupt technology on Earth including satellite navigation signals and aircraft communications.

How does an outburst on the Sun cause a storm on Earth?

The Sun may seem to change little from our viewing position on Earth. With the right equipment, it is possible to see dark regions called sunspots. But up close, our Sun is a dynamic, violent beast.

Bright loops of matter arch and twist like fiery fountains above the surface of this gigantic natural nuclear reactor. And every so often an intense burst of radiation called a solar flare appears when magnetic energy - stored in our star’s atmosphere - is suddenly released.

Solar flares are sometimes associated with the release of high energy particles into space - eruptions that are known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), though these can also occur on their own.

A large CME can contain billions of tonnes of gas and other matter that pours into space at several million km per hour. The charged particles in this cloud stream towards any planet or spacecraft in its path.

When these particles collide with the Earth, they can cause a geomagnetic storm - a disturbance in the magnetic sheath (or magnetosphere) that surrounds our planet, protecting its denizens from the worst effects of cosmic rays.

Credit: NASA,


Posted 6 months ago with 461 notes
Tagged:solar stormsunsciencespaceAstronomysun gifSolar eruptionsolar flare

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