19 June 2016

The Science

What are solar storms?

Solar storms, or Coronal Mass Ejections, are clouds of material coming from the Sun’s atmosphere and sent into space during the most intense events happening in the solar system: solar flares.

When they happen, they interact with the space environment of planets: they are at the origin of the auroras on Earth, as well as Jupiter and Saturn.

As our human societies evolve, we rely more and more and electronic devices and satellites. The latter are needed for the global positioning system (GPS) and telecommunications. Image a world without emails, Skype, Twitter and Instagram! These technologies are all vulnerable to solar storms. As they impact the Earth, they can damage the electronic systems aboard satellites, blackout radio communications, and create surges in the current transported on national electricity grids.

Space weather, or understanding the Sun’s behaviour and its influence on planets and how solar storms propagate, is therefore an important research area. Several countries (in the USA at NOAA or in the UK at the MET office) are now developing space weather centres to provide 24/7 monitoring of the Sun.

Do you want to know more?

There are several websites which explain the science behind solar storms.

Why not first looking at these two?

NASA – space weather FAQ

NOAA – space weather Education and Outreach

Do You need more material for your classes?

We can provide some! Just reach us by email and we can advise on some other websites to look at.