Solar Storm of 2013 and northern lights: Biggest solar flare of the year


    Solar Storm of 2013 and northern lights are making news. It is the biggest solar flare of the year so far

    The brightest star located at the center of our solar system, or in other words the powerful Sun, made the researchers at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grab their seats as it emitted the most powerful flare of this year on Thursday. The entire phenomena got immortalized in photographs clicked by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

    Even though the flare, termed as M class by the observers, was comparatively less stronger  that the flames that were emitted by the Sun in 2012,  the explosion was related with the Earth-directed coronal mass ejection, an event that released billions of charged particles into space, which can capable of causing temporarily interfere with satellites in the space.

    According to the NASA, an increased numbers stronger and frequent solar flares are expected in the coming months due to the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle inching towards solar maximum, expected later this year.

    Since the Solar radiations are absorbed Earth’s atmosphere when it hits it, the solar storms are not capable of causing any physical damage to the human beings. However, a very potent solar storm is capable of disrupting the power grids offline, as it happened during the solar storm in 1859, termed Carrington Event, which knocked telegraph lines out of commission for several days. Similarly as the year 1989, a solar storm knocked Quebec’s power out for nine hours.

    Though the Thursday’s solar storm didn’t do any significant damage, it managed to temporarily knocked out the Military Satellites Offline

    General William Shelton, head of the Air Force’s Space Command said: “Despite being made to withstand radiation emitted from solar flares, a storm caused by the sun earlier this month may have temporarily knocked American military satellites offline. The timing is such that we say this was likely due to [solar radiation]. We’re very concerned about solar activity. Military satellites are hardened [to withstand radiation], but maybe in some cases, not every part is as hard as we would like it to be. ”

    Yihua Zheng, head of NASA’s Space Weather Services at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md said: “There were dire predictions preceding [these flares]. We didn’t see it to that degree. NASA alerts the Air Force whenever a solar flare is incoming, and they have about 20 minutes of advance notice to de-activate sensitive instruments onboard satellites. They can go into a ‘safe mode.’ Once the storm dies down, they can turn it back on.