Solar Flares

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In this handout photo provided by NASA, a Solar and Heliospheric Observatory image shows Region 486 that unleashed a record flare last week (lower left) November 18, 2003 on the sun.

In this handout photo provided by NASA, a Solar and Heliospheric Observatory image shows Region 486 that unleashed a record flare last week (lower left) November 18, 2003 on the sun.

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Last week, the sun released two of the strongest bursts of geomagnetic energy so far this year called solar flares. Turn this current event into a science lesson.

Here’s the scoop: The burst or wave that results from the flare is a coronal mass ejection or scientists simply call it CME. The mass is a cloud of electrons, ions and atoms floating in space.

The clouds reach Earth about two days after the flare. Its impact affects the Earth’s ionosphere and disrupts communication satellites orbiting the Earth and power stations.

If you noticed a blip in your GPS system it could have been caused by the solar flare. Solar flares can happen frequently – several a day – when the sun is active to one every week when the sun is quiet.

Scientists monitor the sun’s activity and can determine when a solar flare will impact Earth.

By the middle of this week, the spot on the sun – where flares are occurring – will have rotated past Earth.

Also, because we live in southern Great Lakes region, scientist predict that if skies are clear this week, we could see a colorful aurora – produced from millions of exploding magnetic energy – as a result of the flares!

Content provided by Oakland University

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