NWD/Space Weather/What is a solar flare?
Space Weather Oct.03.2020

What is a solar flare?

It is the most powerful manifestation of solar activity, radiation of enormous energy when two sunspots interact. During a flash that lasts only a few minutes, jets of gas are emitted, which are the sources of energy and solar cosmic rays – flows of charged particles such as protons and electrons.

These particles rush into space at incredible speeds. Their energy is higher than the energy of the solar wind. The constant flow of charged particles spreading from the Sun to the borders of the heliosphere.

Does solar flare pose a serious threat to people? Let’s find out.

What kind of beast?

solar flare effect

Solar burst is not a random phenomenon. They occur constantly and are associated with the activity of the magnetic field of the corona. They are strong, but rarely. Minor coronal substance emissions occur all the time.

During a massive solar flare, the magnetic field energy is emitted, resulting in a stream of high-energy particles. Also, temperature differences of several million degrees occur at the field boundary.

They occur mostly near the periods of maximum solar activity. Large spots on a star contribute to more powerful energy releases.

Radiation spectra are available in the visible, infrared, ultraviolet, and X-ray ranges.

How often do solar flares happen?

sun flare

In fact, the most colossal solar flare occurred in the middle of the 19th century. It is called the Carrington event, who recorded it. Shortly before that, large spots were marked on the star.

The power of the phenomenon was significant. Emission of the substance was carried out at a speed of more than 2000 km/sec, which took about 18 hours to fly to Earth.

The consequences of the event were not so significant, as there were not many electrical devices at that time. However, there were failures in the telegraph network.

Also, there was a glow in the atmosphere far beyond the poles.

Since the 19th century, the Sun has been actively monitored. Outbursts of such power were no longer observed, but they happen regularly. One of the most giant solar flares occurred in 2012. Luckily, the emission of the substance was not directed towards the Earth.

Classification of flashes

solar burst

The energy of solar flares has been studied quite well. It was found that it can exceed the value of 10 in 32 degrees Erg.

X-ray flux is used to classify this phenomenon. They are divided into 5 main groups:

  • A (the weakest);
  • B (tangible);
  • C (average);
  • M (strong);
  • X (powerful).

Inside each type, there is a smaller gradation – into 9 categories. For example, M2 is 2 times weaker than M4.

It is believed that the event of 2012 had the force of X27 and a powerful release of 1859 – X45.

Where do solar flares occur on the Sun?

During flares, especially strong ones, some accompanying phenomena may occur on the luminaire.

For example, there are known Morton waves, which can be compared with a tsunami. A shock wave sets in motion lower layers of the solar atmosphere. Their spreading speed is up to 1 thousand km/sec.

In the outer layers of the Sun, seismic waves are possible. Also, in the case of strong events, there is an emission of solar matter.

Solar flares effects

We can’t say that as a result of the outbreak of the star, we will all die. However, these phenomena have certain consequences.

Let’s list the main ones:

  • malfunction in electronic systems;
  • magnetic storms that affect health and performance;
  • polar lights (not particularly dangerous, but can affect weather-dependent individuals);
  • danger to astronauts (they are not protected by the atmosphere and magnetic field, so they can get a strong dose of radiation).

It turns out that it is necessary to study solar flares. This will make it possible to take measures to ensure safety for people and technology.

Thank you for reading of this article! You can also read about Stay Out of The Sun Day

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