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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Solar Flares effects, and the end of the world…?


 Solar Flares 2012

Solar Flares 2012
Yes it is official.  NASA has forecast severe Solar Flares for 2012. What does this mean for us? Well the last time we had a medium sized Solar flare pointed near us (not at us but sort of towards us) was in 1958. Back then the telegraph with physical wires were still in use and phone exchanges had human operators and a plugboard. Telegraph operators were electrocuted (through the insulation) and wires became red hot setting papers in offices alight. If the same level of event happened now it would take out anything electronic as efficiently as an emp blast. The flares in 2012 could well be bigger and may even point our way. If so who knows , everything from complete global disruption of electricity, water, comms, food and fuel for a year or so, to frying tonight. Watch for news on this page.  

The Solar Flare (Coronal Mass Ejection or CME) in the picture was captured by SOHO on May 5th 2010. It is the size of rather a lot of planet Earths, the cloud is estimated to weigh around a billion tons, and though we are not being directly aimed at we may well feel some of its effects in 4 days time (9th) as the charged particles graze our atmosphere.

What They Are:
Solar flares are an amazing phenomenon in astronomy. Originating from a star, the solar flare has some interesting properties that can make a strong connection to physics as well as make you wonder if we will survive the year of 2012.
solar flare magnetic
A solar flare occurring on the sun. 
Notice the magnetic field lines that are emerging from the surface.
A solar flare originates within the sun, and is caused by a build up of magnetic energy. When this magnetic energy (stored in a magnetic field) is released, a large amount of plasma is fired from the surface, usually directly over a sun spot. This magnetic field energy is transferred into many different types of energy, one of which is stored in waves (Gamma rays, x-rays, AKA Solar radiation). The amount of this energy that is in a typical solar flare is equivalent to millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs going off at the same time. 

Hard to wrap your head around that? That is about 10^20 joules per second. Still wondering what that is? It would be like having 1,600,000,000,000,000,000 (1.6 quintillion) light bulbs all on at the same time. It seems like a lot of energy, but this solar flare has less energy than the actual amount of energy that the sun creates during its fusion reaction. Just think of a solar flare as a ‘burst’ of this energy.
So with all of this energy being released, why doesn’t it effect us on earth? Well thanks to the earths atmosphere, we never get hit directly with this solar radiation. The atmosphere will deflects most of the electromagnetic radiation. However, NASA has major concerns with these solar flares due to the fact that anything outside of the atmosphere such as satellites, space crafts, and even astronauts can be effected by this mass amount of energy.
Satellites and space crafts do have to be worried about a solar flare. These electromagnetic waves (gamma/x-rays) can burn out circuitry causing many systematic failures. This is a very similar situation to an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that is used in destroying all electronic devices. With that, any electronic device sent out into space has a fail safe system which can be controlled to protect circuitry and draw large currents away from the main components in the device.
On that note, solar flares have a capability of affecting human beings. NASA is currently running a test on an artificial human being with an artificial solar flare. The reason for this test is to understand what type of safety systems we might have to give astronauts if we travel to the Moon or Mars. In this test, they will emulate what a solar flare would do to a person by having short exposures of radiation strikes to a plastic torso. This torso will have all the elements of a human by scientists placing blood in tubes and within organs through out the body. They also want to run a test where they expose this torso to 18 months (about as long as a mars mission might last) of normal radiation from the sun. Results are still pending, keep a watch on this website: Phantom Torso
End of the World….?
You might ask yourself after reading this: When am I ever going to be effected by a solar flare? Well it may soon come. Records have indicated that in 1859 a large amount of solar radiation rained down on the earth. Richard Carrington, an English astronomer at this time, was observing sun spots when all of a sudden a bright white flash appeared on a piece of the sun for about 5 minutes. The northern lights, a common solar event that resembles this solar radiation coming down to earth, was the brightest ever recorded during this time in 1859. In 1859 journal entries through out the US (commonly seen only by the north pole) as well as many captains logs across many different oceans have indicated seeing a green glow so luminous that they could read the newspaper at 1:00AM. This is one of the largest northern light activity ever shown, and it was due to this large eruption in the sun.

Posted by dgsphysics in AstronomySolar and Space weather
Steve Zownorega has his blog at:

Science of Soul: The End-Time Solar Cycle of Chaos in 2012 A.D.

Der Nachweis 2012 (German Edition)

Aftermath: Prepare For and Survive Apocalypse 2012

Solar Rain

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