It is no secret that we’ve come to rely on our technological comfort maybe a little too much, but giant solar storms might affect our technology, scientists say.
Specialists have warned us once again of the damaging effect the sun can have on our technology dependent society. Usually, a solar storm can refer to two things, either a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection, otherwise known as CME.
A solar flare means a large explosion in the sun’s atmosphere, which is to say that the sun gets mad and starts throwing electrons, ions and atoms at us, through its corona. It usually reaches earth one or two days afterwards, but it can still hurt us. For example, the last big one happened in 2014 and, on that particular occasion, NASA registered extreme ultraviolet radiation caused by this explosion.
A coronal mass ejection usually accompanies the solar flare and it represents a gigantic explosion of gas and magnetic field in the solar corona, which is then released into the solar wind. As far as the impact on earth goes, these solar particles that are released and travel close to Earth, can cause fairly strong Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.
But while this effect is beautiful to behold, they can also disrupt radio transmissions, they can damage our satellites and can cause long and massive power outages. And this is exactly what scientists are trying to warn us about.
We inhabit a world where to live without these particular three things, electricity, radio, internet and television via satellites, is downright unimaginable. Should they all go down one day thanks to one of the sun’s personality fits, it is difficult to say what the planetary reaction will be.
The biggest solar storm registered so far was the great solar storm in 1859, also known as the Carrington event. It was thusly named after astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the event at the time. It hit the earth hard and caused one of the biggest geomagnetic storms we know of.
However, scientists say that such activity and behavior on the part of the sun is normal. It is, after all, a giant, almost perfect spherical in shape, ball of hot plasma. Some of it is bound to escape from time to time. The Sun’s influence on earth has been recognized since ancient times, when the planet was worshipped as a deity. It is currently the center of our system, but that will change and the sun will pose more threats than solar flares.
When the fusion that is happening right now at its core will stop, the sun will become what is called a red giant. It will grow in size and engulf the current orbits of Venus, Mercury and, maybe even Earth.
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