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Solar Flare Disrupts Radio Waves On Earth

February 5, 2013
coronal mass ejection

A solar flare drowned out radio communications on Earth on February 2. The relatively “tiny” sun spot erupted into a moderately sized Class-C coronal mass ejection. The sound of the waves created by the solar flare cloaked radio waves between 28MHz and 21.1 MHz.

The voices going across the impacted radio signals appeared to be “swallowed” by the solar flare, Wired notes. NASA JOVE project radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft noted how interesting the sound was as the wave from the coronal mass ejection (CME) rolled through.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the sun is entering the peak of its 11-year cycle. The sun has been relatively calm over the past several months. Only a few large solar flares have reportedly occurred. Flares, or coronal mass ejections, happen when charged sun particles are thrown about at millions of kilometers per hour.

The sun routinely cycles through spans of both increased and decreased activity. During the solar maximum stage, the sun’s atmosphere experiences erupting magnetic winds and sunspots. During the February 2 solar flare, the electrons generated a plasma stream and radio waves on the atmosphere of the sun. The coronal mass ejection that traveled to Earth and hampered some radio communications was a “fairly good-sized” surge, according to NASA Jove project leader James Theiman.

During the 1859 Carrington Event, telegraph stations were set ablaze. Magnetic observatories witnessed disturbances which were past the registration scale. Scientists estimate that should a solar flare of a similar scale occur today, catastrophic consequences could occur. Auroras from such a strong CME would likely damage or down the power grid and enhance erosion of gas and oil pipelines. A complete blackout of radio and satellite communications is also possible.

A National Research Council report states that a Carrington Event solar flare occur, it would likely cause up to $2 trillion worth of damage during the first year of recovery. Due to the extreme reliance on electricity in our modern world, a full recovery is estimated to take between four and 10 years.

Are you concerned about solar flares or the functionality of the power grid?

[Image Via: NASA]

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