Solar Storms

Who knew there were actually storms on the surface of the earth? Well, they aren’t the storms that we are used on earth. Actually, they are quite different. Storms on the sun occur when magnetic fields throughout the sun passing through sun spots and prominences spontaneously shift dramatically. The most known of these storms are solar flares, which are shown above. A solar flare is when X-rays and charged particles are discharged from the inner sun into space and end up reaching most planets including our own. One theory behind these flares is that they occur when the magnetic fields become incredibly tangled up that they cannot bear the tension of magnetism and as a result they break and reshape into a simpler pattern, creating a huge discharge of material from the sun.

So what do these huge solar flares mean for people on earth? We are able to spot them and they actually end up reaching earth a few days later. When they do hit earth, the X-rays are absorbed by our atmosphere and create strong auroras, which are the spectacular light shows that occur in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately these coronal mass ejections, which is the formal name of the particles these major solar flares give off, can also disrupt earth’s own magnetosphere, which causes problems to our power grid and radio communications. Solar flares, while they are beautiful in pictures and video and create for amazing aurora in the sky, can create many problems for our electrical systems and technology. The amount of technology will only increase in the next century so developing ways to protect technology from these flares is very important to protect our electrical grid.


3 thoughts on “Solar Storms

  1. Cool post, it’s pretty crazy how large solar flares are (makes sense with respect to the actual size of the sun, but still, seeing those flares compared to the size of the Earth is shocking). I get that the Earth’s magnetosphere is mostly effective at blocking solar flares but besides the occasional issues with the electrical grid, are there any other negative effects that solar flares have on Earth? Specifically with regards to health effects?


  2. I think it’s so poetic that something that can cause so many problems for us creates some of the most beautiful natural phenomena of our world. I always think about background and history of these sorts of things, so it makes me wonder: what did people of long ago think about the aurora decorating our sky? We know that they are the result of coronal mass ejections from the Sun, but what would people thousands of years ago have thought about colors floating through the sky?


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