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Images courtesy SOHO (NASA & ESA). Animation by Windows to the Universe staff (Randy Russell).
You know that there are all kinds of storms here on Earth - thunderstorms
, blizzards, tornadoes
, and hurricanes
also has storms.
There are two different kinds of storms on the Sun. They are called solar
flares and CMEs (short for Coronal Mass
Ejections). Solar flares last only a few minutes to as long as an hour. CMEs usually last a few hours. Even in this short amount of time, both storms on the Sun can give off more energy than 100 hurricanes on Earth!
The energy from solar storms can be dangerous if it reaches Earth! Astronauts on spacewalks are in danger of
radiation exposure, and electronics on satellites can be fried. We're safe here on Earth because of the shield the Earth's
magnetic field and atmosphere provide.
solar storms do offer us a wonderful (safe!) treat. The beautiful
aurora (Northern and Southern Lights) are results of solar storms.
Some "seasons" are stormier than others on the Sun. More storms happen in the height of the 11-year
solar cycle or near solar maximum times.
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