No need to panic over solar flare

2012-01-24 13:44
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Solar flare

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

Cape Town - South Africans have flooded social networks after rumours that an approaching solar flare was deadly.

However, the coronal mass ejection is one of three components of the solar activity and is not fatal, an expert has said.

"If you were going to die [from a solar flare] you would have died yesterday [Monday] because the explosion on the sun happened yesterday morning," Kobus Olckers, space weather officer at the Ises Regional Space Weather Warning Centre in Hermanus told News24.

"If we get a coronal mass ejection, the first things that reach Earth are the X-rays; the ultraviolet rays. They take eight minutes to get from the sun to the Earth.

This radiation could affect humans, but it is not possible for charged particles to do so. Mass particles take longer to reach Earth, Olckers added.

Solar activity

Because these charged particles could not cross a magnetic field line, we would be safe as long as the Earth had a magnetic field.

"That's why we're still alive on Earth because we've got a magnetic shield around the Earth," Olckers said.

There is no reason to panic because of fears of a "cosmic death ray" from the sun because the ultraviolet peak has already subsided.

"If anything could happen to a human, it would have happened yesterday. The ultraviolet peak has come and gone - it happened yesterday," Olckers said.

Listen to the full interview here:

Kobus Olckers by News24

The sun goes through a regular period of increased solar activity which began about a year ago and is scheduled to peak at the end on 2012 or early 2013.

"We've been in a period of [increased] solar activity for about a year-and-a-half now and it's getting worse as we reach the solar maximum which we guess is going to be late this year or early next year," said Olckers.

Olckers, who works mainly indoors, was quick to poke a fun at people who had the time to spend a leisurely day out in the sun.

"Anybody who was on the beach yesterday will find they have a bit of an extra tan on. If they came home red like lobsters last night, it serves them right because I'm used to working," Olckers said.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    solar flares  |  astronomy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.