Earth dodges a cosmic bullet — for now. Professor Don Lincoln discusses September solar flares and how they affect us.
This article originally premiered on CNN.
Over the last week or so, the sun has experienced a series of solar flares, including the most energetic one in a decade. A solar flare occurs when magnetic energy in the vicinity of a sunspot is released, resulting in a bright spot on the sun that takes place over a time scale of perhaps 10 minutes — or even less.
A More Dangerous Phenomenon
For instance, satellite operators could put their equipment in a nonoperational safe mode during the CME. Likewise, utility operators could defer maintenance, rebalance the electric load and even disconnect vulnerable transformers from the grid to protect them from the deleterious effects of a direct-hit major CME.
This article is part of our Professor’s Perspective series—a place for experts to share their views and opinions on current events.
While the rotation of the sun is carrying the offending sunspot away from the Earth and the sun is heading toward the period of minimum solar activity in its 11-year cycle, the nations of the world must continue to guard against this serious danger.