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  • Solar Storms Become More of a Danger as Sun Reaches Maximum
    Posted by Heather Goss 6:28 PM on May 17, 2011

    As the sun wakes up from the deepest solar minimum in a century, scientists are focusing more on what creates solar storms and how we can predict them.  Kathryn Sullivan, Assistant Secretary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and former astronaut, spoke out this week on the increasing dangers of solar storms. She emphasized that as we reach solar maximum in 2013, we need to be prepared for the “potentially devastating effects” to critical infrastructure.

    blog post photo
    Image of the M3.6 class flare on February 24, 2011. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

    Meanwhile, Space.com has an enlightening article on what may, indeed, be the source of these storms.  Researchers at Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab believe that superheated plasma bubbles rise up through the sun’s atmosphere causing “ropes” of magnetism and electrical current to burst, causing coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the source of solar storms here on Earth.  They believe that finding a way to predict the
    occurrence of these plasma bubbles will enable us to better predict and prepare for incoming CMEs, as they become more frequent in the next few years.  

    If you need a reminder of the amazing power of CMEs, click over to this video captured last week by SOHO on NASA Goddard’s Flickr site.  As a comet falls into the sun, a huge CME bursts out nearby (scientists are fairly certain the events are unrelated). Thankfully, not all solar storms on Earth are dangerous, and some are downright spectacular.

    Tags: os99, sun, solar-maximum, solar-storms

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