Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

2012: Killer Solar Flares Are a Physical Impossibility
by Karen C. Fox for Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Nov 15, 2011

Coronal mass ejection (CME) are solar explosions that propel bursts of particles and electromagnetic fluctuations into Earth's atmosphere.

Given a legitimate need to protect Earth from the most intense forms of space weather - great bursts of electromagnetic energy and particles that can sometimes stream from the sun - some people worry that a gigantic "killer solar flare" could hurl enough energy to destroy Earth.

Citing the accurate fact that solar activity is currently ramping up in its standard 11-year cycle, there are those who believe that 2012 could be coincident with such a flare.

But this same solar cycle has occurred over millennia. Anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar maximum with no harm. In addition, the next solar maximum is predicted to occur in late 2013 or early 2014, not 2012.

Most importantly, however, there simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth.

This is not to say that space weather can't affect our planet. The explosive heat of a solar flare can't make it all the way to our globe, but electromagnetic radiation and energetic particles certainly can.

Solar flares can temporarily alter the upper atmosphere creating disruptions with signal transmission from, say, a GPS satellite to Earth causing it to be off by many yards.

Another phenomenon produced by the sun could be even more disruptive. Known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), these solar explosions propel bursts of particles and electromagnetic fluctuations into Earth's atmosphere.

Those fluctuations could induce electric fluctuations at ground level that could blow out transformers in power grids. The CME's particles can also collide with crucial electronics onboard a satellite and disrupt its systems.

In an increasingly technological world, where almost everyone relies on cell phones and GPS controls not just your in-car map system, but also airplane navigation and the extremely accurate clocks that govern financial transactions, space weather is a serious matter.

But it is a problem the same way hurricanes are a problem. One can protect oneself with advance information and proper precautions. During a hurricane watch, a homeowner can stay put . . . or he can seal up the house, turn off the electronics and get out of the way.

Similarly, scientists at NASA and NOAA give warnings to electric companies, spacecraft operators, and airline pilots before a CME comes to Earth so that these groups can take proper precautions.

Improving these predictive abilities the same way weather prediction has improved over the last few decades is one of the reasons NASA studies the sun and space weather. We can't ignore space weather, but we can take appropriate measures to protect ourselves.

And, even at their worst, the sun's flares are not physically capable of destroying Earth.

For more information concerning 2012, visit 2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won't End?


Related Links
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Giant solar flare detected
Pasadena, Calif. (UPI) Nov 7, 2011
A giant sunspot that erupted last week has been ranked as one of the largest solar flares seen in years, U.S. scientists said. NASA said a powerful solar flare that erupted Thursday on the sun's surface has been classified as a powerful X1.9 flare. The flare triggered some disruption to radio communications, the U.S. space agency said on its Web site. "Scientists are continuing t ... read more

Ancient Lunar Dynamo May Explain Magnetized Moon Rocks

Ancient Lunar Dynamo May Explain Magnetized Moon Rocks

Lunar Probe to search for water on Moon

Subtly Shaded Map of Moon Reveals Titanium Treasure Troves

'Frustration' in Europe over joint Mars probe: NASA

NASA readies launch of 'dream machine' to Mars

Contact with Russian Mars probe 'unlikely' - expert

Mars explorers will include women, experts say

Voyager 2 Completes Switch to Backup Thruster Set

Romanian accused of hacking NASA servers arrested

Singapore family books $1 million Virgin space flight

International consensus on joint space exploration

China completes second space docking

China sets up management body for orbiting space lab

Second Tiangong-1 And Shenzhou-8 docking to face light interference

Made-in-Chengdu to help Shenzhou spacecraft return

Soyuz TMA-22 manned transportation spacecraft launched towards ISS

New Crew Launches to Join Expedition 29

Russia sends astronauts back to space after mishaps

Russia launches three astronauts for space station

Air Force Opens Door to Rocket Launch Competition

International Launch Services and Eutelsat Announce Launch of the W3D Satellite in 2013

ILS and Eutelsat Announce Launch of the W3D Satellite in 2013

The second Soyuz launcher's Fregat upper stage is readied for flight

Giant planet ejected from the solar system

Three New Planets and a Mystery Object Discovered Outside Our Solar System

Dwarf planet sized up accurately as it blocks light of faint star

Herschel Finds Oceans of Water in Disk of Nearby Star

Kindle Fire shipping to mixed reviews

Firm makes iPhone Geiger counter for worried Japanese

Ballmer says "Windows Era" everlasting

Custom glass bending

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement