What is a solar storm and its effect on Earth

One of the space phenomena that you hear the most about lately, and that everything seems to indicate that in the future they will have a greater impact on human life, are solar storms. When we talk about solar storms, we all imagine that they refer to space phenomena coming from the Sun and affecting our planet. However, do you know what a solar storm is and its effect on Earth ?

What is a solar storm

Solar storms, also called geomagnetic storms , are natural phenomena that have their origin in the activity of the solar surface, and that are characterized by affecting the electromagnetic field of the Earth (or of any planet they affect, although it is us who we may be concerned is that of our own planet).

Solar storms occur when the activity of the solar surface emits large amounts of radiation and solar coronal mass (mass of the sun in the form of plasma) into space. This is what is called the solar wind and, in reality, it has nothing to do with the air, but rather it is radiation and mass from the sun’s surface that, when expelled from the star, is thrown into space. Exterior.

Most of the time, this solar wind does not find an object in its path. However, when it crosses the orbits of planets such as Earth, it oppresses the electromagnetic field of the planet , causing it to undergo modifications. When this happens, and the Earth’s electromagnetic field is affected by the solar wind, it is when we speak of a solar storm or a geomagnetic storm.

In reality, the effects of a solar storm on Earth are less dangerous than it may seem at first. It must be borne in mind that what is altered is the electromagnetic field of the planet. However, the solar wind does not get to cross this field, much less alter the surface of the planet where life is found.

However, this does not mean that it does not have concrete effects. In fact, a very strong solar storm leads to northern lights that, instead of concentrating in the latitudes near the poles, tend to appear even in latitudes closer to the tropics, an effect that is due to the alteration of the electromagnetic field that protects the Earth and what causes these phenomena to normally only be seen naturally in the polar regions.

However, beyond the northern lights, solar storms do have an important effect on human activity, precisely because they do affect the electromagnetic field, on which a good part of the technology we use today depends. . In fact, a powerful solar storm can cause problems in radio transmissions, in the use of radars, as well as failures in navigation systems. In fact, one of the biggest problems is that solar storms do affect Earth’s artificial satellites., which are the equipment we currently use in disciplines such as telecommunications or GPS (Global Positioning System). Thus, although they do not directly affect life on Earth, they can greatly affect the daily activities of human beings today.

There is some controversy as to whether a solar storm could become really dangerous for life on Earth if it impacted the orbit of our planet and, finally, crossed the electromagnetic field, reaching the surface of the Earth. planet.

In fact, at least to date, no solar storms have ever been recorded that had the ability to affect life on Earth. In fact, for this to be possible, it would be necessary that it was not a solar storm itself, but a coronary mass ejection from the solar surface so powerful that, as such, it could impact the Earth in a similar way to like an asteroid would. However, the distance at which our planet is located means that this possibility, although not impossible, is very unlikely.

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