New Warning System to Predict Intensity of Solar Flare
The solar flare that erupted on Thursday racing towards the Earth was being measured by a new warning system that would measure the high energy particles emitted from the sun in the form of powerful solar storms. It is believed that the observations made by this new system will help the scientists to predict the intensity of these harmful and hazardous radiations when they come in contact with earth.
It is the physicists from the University of Delaware in the U.S. and the Chungnam National University and the Hanyang University in South Korea are the ones that have developed the new warning system that will help in making careful observations. It will help to predict when the charged particles that are thrown towards the Earth will be at their strongest point.
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According to the scientists, the plasma and charged particles that is being unleashed by the solar flare dispels hazardous radiation satellites in orbit, would crash down astronauts in space and electronics infrastructure on Earth. It is based on the intensity of this solar flare, that there can be radio blackouts, power grids will be disrupted and the astronauts would have health risks. As a precautionary measure airlines that pass through Earth's Polar region will be deviated.
"If you're in a plane flying over the poles, there is an increased radiation exposure comparable to having an extra chest X-ray you weren't planning on," study co-author John Bieber, of the University of Delaware's Bartol Research Institute, said in a statement. "However, if you're an astronaut on the way to the moon or Mars, it's a big problem. It could kill you. Traveling nearly at the speed of light, it takes just 10 minutes for the first particles ejected from a solar storm to reach Earth."
This new system will prove to be helpful especially tot NASA who plans future mission beyond low Earth orbit, the moon or Mars. The solar physicist would benefit from this system as it helps to determine when solar storms would produce health threats for the space flyers.
In order to develop the warning system, data collected by two neutron monitors at the south pole which was located inside and outside of the Amundsen Scott Pole station. These instruments were used to measure the high intensity of the high energy, fast moving particles that arrive at Earth from such solar flare.
Based on the particles that reached Earth first, scientists studied that when slower, moving particles will follow that will be more dangerous.
"These slower-moving particles are more dangerous because there are so many more of them," Bieber said. "That's where the danger lies."
The radiations of this solar flare will affect humans as they have less energy.
"The lower-energy protons are sufficiently slow that we slow them down and stop them with our bodies, so they do more damage," said Joseph Kunches, a scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center, which is jointly managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service. "Generally speaking, if they're slower, they'll deposit all of the energy into your body because they're not fast enough to fly right through," Kunches told SPACE.com.
The new system that is particularly useful to protect the astronauts was put to test for its accuracy. The researchers matched their calculations for 12 solar storms to observations made by geosynchronous satellites, and found comparable results for charged particles with energies higher than 40 million to 80 million (or megaelectron) volts.
Kunches concluded saying, "The energy that they focus on is like the energy that would be a serious issue if you were going to go to Mars and go back to the moon. As you go to higher energies, your lead time is diminished. The system represents an incremental improvement in space weather forecasting. It's valuable, but I think it's valuable for really educated users who know exactly what energies may be problematic for them."