Breakdown: Why solar flares happen & impacts to earth

Published: Aug. 15, 2021 at 9:41 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2021 at 11:58 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Solar weather is taking place all the time and can impact earth at anytime.

The surface of the is extremely hot and an active place. It contains electrically charged gases that generate areas of strong magnetic forces according to scientist. These areas are called magnetic fields. The Sun’s gases are always moving around and causes the magnetic fields to get tangled, twisted and stretched. That twisitng and stretching motions creates all the activity on the Sun’s surface, and is referred to as solar activity. Solar flares are sudden bursts of energy caused by all the tangling, crossing or reorganizing of magnetic field lines near sunspots.

Solar flares can release a lot of radiation into space according to scientist. Strong solar flares can interference with radio and GPS signals The stronger the flare the longer these disruptions can last. It could be a few minutes to hours of disruptions depending on the amount of energy emitted.

Sometimes solar flares are accompanied by a coronal mass ejection or a (CME) which are large areas of radiation and particles from the Sun. They can explode into space at super high rate of speed when the Sun’s magnetic field lines suddenly reorganize according to scientist.

When CME’s are make it near Earth, they can cause intense lights in the sky, called auroras. If the CME is really strong it can cause problems with power utility grids, which can cause power outages. Solar flares and CMEs are the most powerful explosions in our solar system.

One scientist gave the analogy of a rubber band that keeps getting stretched and eventually snaps. The sudden snap is when lots of energy is released in the form of a solar flare. This is energy is released in the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum includes radio waves, microwave rays, visible light, ultraviolet light, gamma rays and X-rays.

Scientist monitor solar weather by observing sun spots. These spots can sometimes appear on the sun’s surface. Sun spots can indicate a fluctuation in the magnetic field.

Sunspots are areas that look dark on the surface of the Sun. Sunspots look dark because because they are cooler than other parts of the Sun’s surface although the temp of a sunspot is approximately 6,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing cool about that. Sunspots form where magnetic fields are strong and the magnetic fields are so intense that some of the heat within the Sun is kept from reaching the surface.

Some larger scale interferences from solar flares have caused problems on Earth. In 1989, all of Quebec, Canada lost power for nine hours.

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