Monday, November 14, 2011

How dangerous are solar flares?

Without the Sun the life on our planet wouldn't be possible. But the Sun isn't always a good guy because of solar flares, huge bursts of electromagnetic energy and other particles coming from the Sun.

And since the Sun is currently entering the peak of its activity there are some who fear that in 2012 gigantic solar flare could even destroy Earth and confirm Mayan prediction about the end of the world.

The majority of scientists don’t share this opinion. The standard solar activity cycle which lasts for 11 years isn't something new and anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar maximum with no harm. Also to get the facts straight the next solar maximum is predicted to occur in late 2013 or early 2014, not 2012.

The Sun, even despite its enormous size doesn't have enough energy to send a killer solar flare 93 million miles to destroy Earth. This however does not mean that the increased solar activity will not affect our planet.

The biggest issue could be in form of coronal mass ejections that have the ability to propel bursts of particles and electromagnetic fluctuations into Earth's atmosphere which could in worst possible scenario blow out transformers in power grids and also disrupt electronics onboard a satellite.

The recent technological advances have enabled NASA to improve their predicting abilities about the solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and space weather in general. This means that NASA scientists can give early warnings to electric companies, spacecraft operators, and airline pilots before a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth so that they can take proper precautionary measures.