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Solar Activity Essay

1047 words - 5 pages

Solar Activity
Most people just look up at the sun and enjoy the warmth and brightness of the light. Without the sun there would be no life on earth. If a person took the time to analyze it, he or she would find more than bright light and warm weather. The sun is very active with solar cycles, sunspots, and most of all solar flares. It is amazing how much the suns activity can affect us on Earth.
A solar cycle is when the sun's magnetic field rotates a full 360 degrees, causing its poles to switch. This solar magnetic activity cycle or solar cycle has been active for hundreds of millions of years. A solar cycle can be as short as nine years or as long as fourteen years, with an average of ...view middle of the document...

Sunspots are huge, as large as planets, the largest one being approximately 20 times the size of earth. Some of the larger ones are visible from earth without the aid of a telescope or other device. Sunspots get bigger and smaller as they move across the sun. They usually appear in pairs, on either side of the sun’s equator, and usually last from a few days to a few months.
Shifty magnetic fields at the sun surface make it unstable; this instability leads to eruptions of radiation on the sun, called solar flares (Zell). Solar flares are also known as corneal loops, like explosions at the surface. Solar flares often occur at the same time as coronal mass ejections, where a chunk of the sun breaks off from its atmosphere. The biggest flares can be tens of times the size of the Earth. When there is a coronal mass ejection, high-energy particles can travel at over 1,000 miles per second (Zell). These explosions in the sun lead to high speed solar winds. Solar flares cause a sudden brightening over the sun surface. Energy is released as explosions of magnetic force caused by an increase of matter from the sun and sends charged particles towards Earth. Most particles are captured by the Earth’s magnetic field. Many of these charged particles are attached to the poles (Millis). The charged particles interact with Earth’s upper atmosphere causing bright colorful lights that appear as fireworks across the dark artic skies, known as the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
Solar flares can affect many aspects of our life, including air travel, GPS; emergency broadcast system, financial services, and power grids (Millis). Some solar flares are big and considered strong magnetic fields that hit Earth’s atmosphere and disrupt the ionosphere, the very upper part of the atmosphere. Radio waves travel though the ionosphere. A disruption in this part of the atmosphere can cause high and low radio frequency signals to become jammed. This...

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