Superflares

Joe Kunches wrote an article, 5 May 2015, for the Washington Post titled Scientists spot evidence for ‘superflares,’ blowing away anything we’ve ever seenThe premise of the article was that the sun could unleash a flare of such a magnitude that it would dwarf anything humans have ever observed.

 

The Sun erupted with a twisted blob of plasma that was part of a coronal mass ejection blasted into space (Sept. 26, 2014). The video covers about two hours of action (3:51 UT to 5:44 UT). These kinds of eruptions are usually caused by a disruption of powerful magnetic forces. The material seen here is ionized Helium at 60,000 degrees C. with wonderful details courtesy of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory showing the Sun in a wavelength of extreme UV light.

 

A "superflare" is a solar flare that contains energy 1,000 times larger than what has been observed in modern times.

Solar flares are known to cause blackouts of radio communications on the sunlit side of the Earth and disrupt radio navigation services. They provide the energy for a class of energetic particle acceleration that results in solar radiation storms that can disturb or damage satellites. They are also sometimes associated with geomagnetic storms that, if severe enough, can disturb the Earth’s electrical grid.

The article suggested that a superflare, off-the-charts of our current space weather classification system, should occur about once every 800-5,000 years.

Joe Kunches is based in Boulder, Colo., and was a former lead forecaster and operations chief at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center.

Benjamin Dancer

Benjamin is the author of the literary thriller Patriarch Run, the first book in a series that will include Fidelityand The Story of the Boy. He also writes about parenting, education, sustainability and national security.

Benjamin works as an Advisor at a Colorado high school where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. His work with adolescents has informed his stories, which are typically themed around fatherhood and coming-of-age.

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