As we all are familiar with the fact that, the sun is the only source of energy on which we are living. After all, we wouldn’t be here without it. On one hand, the sun is the most vital source of energy for me, you, as well as for all the living being on Planet Earth, and on the other hand, it also gives us a headache every once in a while. Astronomers had captured a glimpse of a Solar Flare a few days ago (As of 15 Feb 2018) producing a CME (coronal mass ejection), and it’s expected to hit planet earth today as a solar storm.
On August 31, 2012, a long prominence/filament of solar material that had been hovering in the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. Seen here from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the flare caused an aurora on Earth on September 3.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
What Is Solar Flare?
A Solar Flare is a sudden flash of increased sun’s brightness due to a large explosion of magnetic energy within the Sun’s Atmosphere. The energy released during a solar flare is generally in the order of 1 × 1020 joules to 1 × 1025 joules. A solar flare cannot be detected by naked eyes. In order to detect a solar flare, an observer needs to view it through a telescope or some other astronomical instruments. Sometimes solar flares are accompanied by Coronal Mass Ejection.
The amount of energy released during the occurrence of a solar flare is equivalent to the explosion of a 100-megaton hydrogen bomb exploding at the same time or even 10 times greater than the energy released during the volcanic eruption. When a solar flare occurs in other than our sun’s atmosphere is known as the stellar flare.
What Causes Solar Flare?
Frankly speaking, physicists are still baffled that what actually causes solar flare!!! The mechanism involved is still not well known. Therefore there is a general agreement on the facts related to The Source Of The Solar Flare’s Energy.
As per the known theory, when charged particles (electrons) interact with the plasma, a solar flare is produced. Solar flares are believed to occur due to a process called magnetic reconnection. In simple terms, when the loop of magnetic force breaks apart and then rejoins; a vast amount of energy (solar flare) is released. Within a matter of minutes, particles are accelerated into Deep Space. The sudden breaking and then rejoining of the loop of magnetic force is the origin of the particle acceleration. Particles accelerated by the intense energy nearly to the speed of light.
How Often Do Solar Flares Occur?
Solar flares generally tend to occur near Sunspots – mostly in the active region. During the occurrence of a solar flare, all the layers of the sun (photosphere, chromosphere, and corona) are affected. Larger solar flares occur much less than the smaller solar flares.
Well, the frequency of occurrence of solar flare solely depends on the activity of the sun. In simple terms, in an 11-year solar cycle, their frequency varies from several flares per day when the sun is particularly active to the fewer than one flare per week when the sun is in a quiet phase.
Classification Of Solar Flares
An earlier method for The Classification Of Solar Flares was based on the intensity as well as the Emitting Surface of Hα line of the Solar Spectrum. But nowadays, the modern classification of solar flares is done according to the peak flux (W/m2) of X-rays from 100 to 800 picometre; as observed by the GOES (Geostationary Operation Environmental Satellite) spacecraft orbiting around the earth.
On August 1, 2010, the Sun shows a C3-class solar flare (white area on upper left), a solar tsunami (wave-like structure, upper right) and multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Peak Flux Range at 100-800 picometre
10−7 – 10−6
10−6 – 10−5
10−5 – 10−4
When Was The First Solar Flare Discovered?
The first-ever recorded solar flare is also the most powerful flare ever recorded till date. Known as The Solar Storm Of 1859 occurred on Sept 1, 1859. It was independently reported by 2 British amateur astronomers Richard C. Carrington and Richard Hodgson.
The solar storm of 1859, also known as the Carrington Event was visible to the naked eyes, produced Auroras all over the world. At that time, physicists and scientists were unable to calculate the magnitude and strength of the solar flare of 1859. But today with modern techniques, scientists reconstructed the Carrington Event based on the Beryllium-10 isotopes produced during the solar storm of 1859.
How Do Solar Flares Effect Earth?
There are a variety of things that happen or effect earth due to solar flare; such as:
Solar flare produces high energy particles and radiation which are quite dangerous for living organisms.
Satellites orbiting around the earth could be minorly damaged due to solar flares.
There could be an increase in visibility and as well as in the brightness of the Auroras; known as Southern or Northern lights.
High-frequency radio waves could be severely degraded.
Electrical Power Grids could be damaged severely due to solar flares.
There will be an increase in the chances of sunburn or even cancer due to ultra-violet rays released during a solar flare.
How To Predict Solar Flares?
Still, nowadays physicists and scientists are unable to predict the upcoming solar flare with high accuracy because the current methods used by the scientist are too problematic. Although high sunspot activity is associated with an increased chance of solar flares production yet, there is no certain accurate indication that an active sunspot will definitely produce a solar flare. However, if a strong solar flare (M or X class) is predicted, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) directly issues a forecast/warning.
ON that note, I can say that I have tried enough to give an overview of Upcoming Events & Everything About Solar Flares – In My View within my reach. If there is any suggestion, I am all ears. Feel free to comment.
That’s it for this post — share it if you like, like it if you share ???? ∗ Don’t Believe It As I Said Till You Yourself Believe It First – Gautama Buddha
I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my carrier, and therefore I just completed my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as like ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every part of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.