Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Solar Flares are we going to get fried

A solar flare is an intense flash of extreme radiation emanating from the Sun.  Solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M or X (ranged from small to large).

Solar flares can produce streams of highly energetic particles in the solar wind, known as a solar proton event, or "coronal mass ejection" (CME). At high levels we speak of a Solar Radiation Storm.
These particles can impact the Earth's magnetosphere and can cause a geomagnetic storm. Such storms can interfere with modern technology on Earth, such as electrical power grids, communications systems and satellites.

In 2012 a new solar maximum is expected (Solar Cycle 24)  and we  could be in for a huge firework display.  The Sun will be approaching the peak of its 11-year cycle, so we can expect a lot of solar activity. Certain predictions put the solar greatest extent of Solar Cycle 24 even more vigorous than the last solar maximum in 2002-2003 take into account all those record breaking X-class flares. But should we be worried?

On March 13th, 1989 a huge solar induced magnetic storm played havoc with the ionosphere, and the earth's magnetic field. This storm, the second largest storm experienced in the past 50 years, totally shut down Hydro-Quebec, the power grid servicing Canada's Quebec province. Service restoration took more than nine hours.
The solar storm of 1859, also known as the Solar Superstorm was the most powerful solar storm in recorded history. Aurorae were seen around the world. In the Rocky Mountains it was so bright that the glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning.