Solar Flares Hit Earth Like A Sneeze, Study Suggests

First Posted: Jun 26, 2017 04:36 AM EDT

Solar eruptions behave like a sneeze, according to a team of researchers that analyzed plasma clouds ejected by the Sun. Until now, scientists have treated cloud-like structures of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) as single entities.

According to a new research published in the journal Scientific Reports, CMEs are more like a dust cloud or sneeze that is a collection of millions of independently acting individual plasma parcels. "This means that trying to predict the shape and movement of CMEs as they pass through the solar wind becomes extremely difficult," professor of astrophysics at England’s Reading University, Mathew Owens, said in a news release. "Therefore, if we want to protect ourselves from solar eruptions, we need to understand more about the solar wind."

The research team has pointed out that the research is the first to take a detailed look at how the behavior of coronal mass ejections is influenced by solar winds and other external factors. The experts have shown that the eruption clouds reach a high point quickly after which they stop behaving in a holistic manner, by analyzing the kinetics of a cross-section of coronal mass ejection. After reaching the high point, the plasma parcels in the cloud expand faster in comparison to the information that can disperse through it. Therefore, the coronal mass ejection stops reacting to external forces as a coherent structure.

The research team has suggested that existing CME models have to be reformulated after the findings of the recent research. Incidentally, coronal mass ejections can bring the risk of radiation exposure to people present in high altitudes or those traveling on airplanes. Coronal mass ejections can also have a damaging impact on electronics, communication systems and satellites. Therefore, predicting the trajectory of CMEs becomes more important to prevent and prepare for their harmful impacts.

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