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Recent solar flares proved not harmful by NASA


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On Sept. 7, the activity level of the sun in its current 11-year cycle peaked with a powerful solar storm.

The titanic explosion peaked at 1:48 p.m., covering several times more area than the Earth.

X-ray emissions skyrocketed to as high as 193 angstroms (unit of measurement for length in wavelengths and inter-atomic distances) from highly ionized iron atoms, according to Sky and Telescope.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) determined this was an X-class (extreme) event.

The flare unleashed a wave of relativistic particles and x-rays that reached Earth just minutes later.

This particular eruption and solar flare came from a sunspot group known as the active region 2158.

The solar storm created a coronal mass ejection (CME) that lashed out and created a sort of halo around the sun, all while aiming the potentially dangerous rays directly at the Earth.

Although the first instinct when it comes to hearing about solar flares is to be afraid, scientists say there is no immediate threat.

“The most dangerous emissions from flares are energetic charged particles (primarily high-energy protons) and electromagnetic radiation (primarily x-rays),” Sky and Telescope said.

Earth’s protection from these kinds of events consists of its atmosphere and magnetic field.

X-rays are able to disturb Earth’s ionosphere, and because of this also disturb some radio communications.

Earth’s outer atmosphere often falls victim to x-rays as well, when it is heated and forced to expand. This expansion increases the friction of orbit for the satellites in space and in turn reducing their lifetimes.

This change in the atmosphere and intense radio emission can degrade the precision of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) measurements.

Regardless, energetic particles seldom reach the Earth and when they do they are either rebounded by the magnetic field or they fail to significantly increase the radiation Earth experiences, according to Hesperia.

Despite the threat embedded in the words “solar flare,” the human population has essentially nothing to worry about. Solar flares are constantly happening and no one but astronomers seem to be too concerned.

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The student news site of Winnetonka High School
Recent solar flares proved not harmful by NASA