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North Rhine-Westphalia: Strong solar flare – effects on Earth?

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North Rhine-Westphalia: Strong solar flare – effects on Earth?

As of: February 10, 2024 3:23 p.m

It is the strongest solar flare in years, according to the US space agency NASA. On Earth, this could lead to power outages and disrupted navigation systems. But that’s not likely.

Cell phone reception and air traffic are disrupted, as are television and radio signals, navigation systems don’t work, the power goes out – all of these can trigger solar flares when they become so-called solar storms on Earth. But such massive effects are unlikely, say scientists, for example from Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research.

However, exactly how a violent solar storm will affect cannot be predicted. A solar storm in 2003 caused a failure of the European flight radar. American air traffic was also disrupted. The Swedish city of Malmö was without power for several hours. According to science, major damage is not likely.

Solar flares are completely normal

Solar flares happen again and again – whenever significantly more rays and particles are thrown from the sun into space for a short time than usual. The reason for this is bulges in the sun’s magnetic field. Most of the time we don’t notice anything happening on Earth – but every now and then these particles can hit the Earth and then trigger a solar storm.

This happens in phases. In the so-called solar cycle, the sun’s activity initially increases until the middle of the cycle and then decreases again. The last cycle began at the end of 2019 – now the Sun is approaching the peak of its activity.

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Our sources:

  • Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
  • NASA press release
  • ARD Alpha
  • Facts about the sun arrow on the right

The reported on this topic WDR Radio on WDR Aktuell – The day at twelve on February 10th, 2024.

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