Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just in: Solar Flares Forecasted for 2012 and 2013

I haven't had many posts about things that intrigue me.

I've always been fascinated with nature and science--perhaps the reason for my desire to get a science Bachelors from school. Even though I'm not working anywhere near a science related industry, I find myself always quickly clicking on the article link about something that happens in nature.

The latest one to catch my eye is from CBC about "Massive solar flares not expected to cause disruptions". What exactly is going on? Well, our Sun is an active star that has "cycles"--11 years to be exact. In essence, every 11 years, there is a peak of activity in our Sun, such as solar flares.

These solar flares are eruptions which spew out into space (solar wind). As a result, our solar system gets a spewing of ions, electrons and atoms in the form of radiation. First, electromagnetic radiation, then proton radiation and finally, the plasma from the sun (coronal mass ejection).

Usually, our technology dependant society gets a little worried because all this solar ejection can sometimes disrupt the "radiation" which we enjoy... in the form of cellular phone service, radio, television... etc. In other situations, it can knock out entire power grids, like it did in 1989, for Quebec. And we can't forget about the astronauts out in space or the satellites that carry all our signals... but a really neat bonus for us Torontonians is that we have the opportunity to view the aurora borealis in our backyards.

And really, who cares if the power grid goes out for a day or two. I don't have to go to work!

This storm has been classified as the largest one since the Halloween Storms of 2003. The Halloween Storms were so powerful that they were seen as far south as Florida and Texas!

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