GIANT SOLAR ERUPTION REALLY COOL BUT MOSTLY MEANINGLESS TO US
November 18 2012
Washington, D.C. – The sun is of course the source of all life on planet Earth. Without the Sun there would be nothing here, the Earth would just be a barren rock floating in space. Instead, it is teeming with life of incredible diversity and has allowed for things such as religion and art to be created, something that normally doesn’t happen with giant balls of nuclear gas.
The sun, though, is a hostile place and with it we share an often volatile relationship. Though we depend on it for our very existence, we know that one day, way in the future, it will take everything it has give this planet away. One day our star will expand and destroy the Earth as it itself passes away.
That time though is very far away, something we today do not need to worry about. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are free from the fury the Sun possesses, something we see in skin cancer and, increasingly out or electronic world, a very real concern that solar storms could disrupt life here. One such event has now occurred on the Sun, a massive eruption on the surface that is pretty cool but relatively meaningless to us here on Earth, on the whole.
“The red-glowing looped material is plasma, a hot gas made of electrically charged hydrogen and helium. The prominence plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun’s internal dynamo. An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma,” said a statement from NASA which monitors such eruptions.
Solar storms and flares have the potential to disable electronic devices, possibly rendering that fancy iPad of yours useless for a few hours.
Such storms could also disable important electrical devices such as pacemakers but luckily nothing of the sort happened this time.
“It’s really compelling seeing these things play out on the Sun, seeing the power and majesty of the star and how violent it really is. For most of us the sun is just this magnificent light in the sky, something we want to see most of the time, but it really is a hostile and brutal place all the time, even more so during a storm,” said Scrape TV Science analyst Dr. Howard Poe. “Luckily it’s far away and those storms don’t reach us. They do have the potential to cause interruptions to be sure but that’s really just an inconvenience for the most part, nothing that will kill us severely or anything.”
Such solar events have been happening on the Sun for billions of years and there really isn’t anything we can do about them, save survive the onslaught.
“One day a storm will do major damage to electrical systems and the networks we rely on and that will cause temporary but significant trouble for all of us back here on Earth. That’s something we do to prepare for but something we can’t do anything to stop. We are at the Sun’s mercy,” continued Poe. “At least we are at its mercy for now. That could change in the future and perhaps one day we could be in control of the Sun itself and be able to direct solar storms. I don’t know to what end but it would be cool.”
The next storm will be coming whenever the Sun feels like it.
Anna Phillips, Science Correspondent