What are some of the effects of solar flares on Earth?
I already know that solar flares cause the earth's atmosphere to become more ionized and has an effect on radio signals which causes a disruption in wireless communication. Is there any additional information you can give me on this idea and the effect of solar flares?
There are many effects of solar flares (and related solar processes) on Earth. I suggest you go check this site which lists the effects of the Sun on the Earth, including solar flares.
The direct effects of solar flares are mainly related to communications and radio transmissions, which you already seem to know about. Solar flares are often associated with coronal mass ejections, the ejections of electrons, protons and ions from the Sun. These charged particles have some other effects on Earth. The Earth has a natural protection against these charged particles: its magnetic field and atmosphere that blocks most of them. However, some charged particles can enter the atmosphere at the poles.
One of the most spectacular (and extremely beautiful) consequence of this are auroras. When charged particles (especially electrons) find their way at the poles, they get accelerated along the lines of the magnetic field and collide with the particles in the atmosphere which makes them glow. That glow is what we see as an aurora.
There are also health issues for ailine pilots and astronauts. For those of us that spend most of our time on the ground, the magnetic field and the atmosphere block out almost all of the harmful radiation and charged particles. This is not the case when you go up in the atmosphere. Airline pilots that fly at great altitude, and especially near the poles, are exposed to more of these. The same goes for astronauts. This results in a higher incidence of cancer among airline pilots and cabin crew. Astronauts have even reported seeing flashes of light because of high energy protons hitting their eyes!
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- How do solar flares affect airline pilots?
- Will the magnetic field of the Earth reverse its direction in the future? Will this cause problems?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 72379 times since October 10, 2002.
Last modified: October 10, 2002 12:13:21 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)