Some of you asked me today.
Yes, the Sun is pretty active lately. Not many hours ago it did flare on its surface. With such luck that the ejecta pointed towards us. That´s rather unusual considering the tiny size of the Earth in comparison to the huge distance from the Sun.
The flared occurred because a massive magnetic rope emerged from the Sun, it twisted once there and, hence, there was a reconnection (like a shortcut) that liberated huge amounts of energy and light to space. (that´s magnetohydrodynamics 101… the how, no one really knows why)
Right then the Earth reacted to the light. We have an atmosphere to protect us from that massive light in Ultraviolet, but that also can blackout radio communications, heat the outer atmosphere and endanger low lying satellites. Luckily this one wasn´t that big.
The ejecta, a massive cloud of highly magnetized plasma travels through space and hits the Earth (in this case partly sideways). The Earth has its own magnetic field to shield us. That makes the plasma bend towards the poles, where they enter our atmosphere. When they hit the atmosphere it shines (the auroras, greenish/reddish lights in the sky)
[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”576” caption=”Source: http://iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov/iswa/iSWA.html”][/caption]
The sun has cycles of 11 years of activity. We approach a peak in the next 2 or 3 years. btw. There was a hypothesis that the Sun might be an influence in climate change, but it was largely proved irrelevant. If it does, the effect is way smaller than other causes, like us.
If you want to procrastinate more. Here´s the tool I made for shortly before coming to gai.org The region that erupted is on the upper band, to the right. http://solphys.nrl.navy.mil/users/bruno/docs/euvi-synoptic/284/movietool.html
Hope my fellow astrophysicists don´t mind my quick & dirty explanation ;)comments powered by Disqus