Question: What are solar flares? Discuss its mechanism. Explain how solar flares will have implications on our communications and power systems.
Answer: A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. These flares have direct impact on the atmosphere and climate of Earth. The occurrence is influenced by 11 year sun spot cycle.
Mechanism of solar flares
- During the 11-year solar cycle, the magnetic force of Sun increases and decrease. The peak of the cycle causes corona of the Sun to experience low temperatures.
- These low temperature spots create black appearances on the surface of the Sun. They are known as Sun spots.
- During the peak of Sun Spot cycle, the ejection of solar particles will be highest. This causes solar storms in our solar system.
Implications of solar flares on communications
- Satellite failure
During the solar flare event, the particles emitted from Sun will harm the electronic components of the satellite causing failure of satellite communication.
- Internet cable failure
The electrical current generated on ground from particles emitted from sun will pass through submarine internet cables, resulting in failure of electrical components present in the communication system.
- Radio communication
The particles emitted from sun will alter the ionosphere of our atmosphere. This will cause radio waves to fail and make radio communication difficult.
Implications on power system
- Power grid failure
The electric grids of the world will experience damage of equipments after electrically charged particles penetrate the ground.
Thus, solar flares are not just communication and power catastrophe; they also have other concerns related to health of plants, animals and humans.