Lucky escape for Earth after solar flare

2012-01-24 11:23
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

GALLERY: Solar flare

A solar flare was captured by Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory. See a selection of these fascinating pictures.

kalahari.com

  • Astronomy
    Learn about famous astronomers, the solar system, stars, and other aspects of astronomy Was R174.95 Now R148.71
    buy now

Cape Town - The Earth will not bear the brunt of the coronal mass ejection that will hit the planet on Tuesday.

"Its source was an active area about 45° to 50° off the equator of the sun," Kobus Olckers, space weather officer at the Ises Regional Space Weather Warning Centre in Hermanus told News24.

He said that most of the CME would miss the planet, but that minor disruptions were still possible because of the scale of the event.

"Most of the mass - I would say 95% of the mass - is going away from the ecliptic plane, so that thing is going away from all the planets," Olckers said.

The plane of the ecliptic is the plane of the planets around the sun and the Earth would be more vulnerable if a CME were to erupt from the sun's equator.

Fortunate

Earth is fortunate that the CME occurred at a higher solar latitude because it will result in a minimal effect.

"I saw it yesterday [on Monday], we're going to catch the very edge of it. It's coming our way but if we had been 80 million kilometres further up, it would have been bad," Olckers said.

The distance from the Earth to the sun is about 150 million kilometres.

The sun goes through a solar cycle about every 11 years where an increased activity on the surface is observed.

Olckers said that if a CME had to hit the Earth squarely, it would result in devastating consequences.

"Full frontal [hit] that's bad news because it was really energetic."

Internet, satellite and telephone communications could have been disrupted, he added.

Scientists recognise three major categories of solar flares. X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.


- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    solar flares  |  astronomy
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
257 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 06:24 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    SLOW TRAFFIC between Duinefontein Road and the Jan Smuts Drive exit
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 06:22 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    DELAYS between the R300 Highway and the Satellite Station
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E7

Your mobile office Real-time emails with Mail for Exchange. Easy access to...

From R3499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.