What is a Solar Flare?
- A solar flare is defined as a sudden, rapid, and intense variation
- Solar flares result from magnetic energy that has built up in the
solar atmosphere and suddenly is released.
- The energy released during a flare is equivalent to millions of
100 megaton hydrogen bombs going off simultaneously.
- The energy from a large flare is ten million times greater than the
energy released from a volcanic explosion. On the other hand, it is
less than one-tenth of the total energy emitted by the Sun every second.
- The energy is released through the chromosphere and into
the corona, where it escapes as a ripple in the solar wind.
- Inside a flare, the temperature typically
reaches 10 or 20 million degrees Kelvin, and can be as high as 100
million degrees Kelvin.
- The frequency of solar flares coincides with the sun's eleven
year cycle. Solar flares increase as the sun aproaches the maximum
part of its cycle. The sun will reach the peak of its cycle in the
year 2000 or 2001.
- Flares can recur with the same geometry and time development
within an active region. This is because the flare does not
significantly alter the magnetic configuration of the active region
so subsequent flares do not have a different form.
- Solar flares can interupt the communications network here on Earth.
- The first solar flare was recorded on September 1, 1859 by two
scientists, Richard C. Carrington and Richard Hodgson.
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