Sunday, January 24, 2010

Solar Flare Predictor

And now for some real science. NOAA scientists have come up with a new improved solar flare predictor, giving up to three days advance notice of where a flare will erupt on the surface of the sun. Why is this important? We have a lot more electrical wires, computers, cell phones, and orbiting satellites than they did in 1859, when Richard Carrington *just* happened to be observing the sun in time to see a brilliant flash of white light (and if it is brilliant enough to show up against the sun ...) That particular flare produced a huge Coronal Mass Ejection that hit the Earth 18 hours later, disrupting telegraph service and causing auroras as far south as the Caribbean. In some cases, clever telegraphers figured out the lines were self-powering, and transmitted without their normal electric source. That geomagnetic storm was damaging enough then. It would be devastating today. If we have warning of a flare about to hit, we can shut down and protect infrastructure. Or, party and buy up survival gear. Lots of options.

More info on the Carrington Superflare here.


Blogger MissC said...

Is that what causes the Borealis? When we lived in Missouri, we saw a red aurora at night. Seriously creeped us out.

8:20 AM, February 16, 2010  

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