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Solar Storms

You know that there are all kinds of storms here on Earth - thunderstorms, blizzards, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The Sunalso 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 fieldand atmosphere provide.

Sometimes, 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.

Last modified April 29, 2016 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA