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I created this blog without engineering. It's only limited to my knowledge. This blog contains articles which include history, astronomy, geology, and others.

Sun Storm 2012 - Should We Worry?

Posted by Mahendra blog Friday, October 1, 2010

Sun Storm 2012 - Should We Worry?

When the solar minimum occurred, sunspots disappeared and tongues of flame the sun disappeared. The sun suddenly became very quiet, just like an ordinary calm atmosphere before a big storm hit.

Last year, the 2012 doomsday issues associated with the Mayan calendar and solar storms become one of the hottest topics being discussed by many people. The issue began to subside when many scientists, including from NASA itself, issued a statement refusing doomsday speculation from solar storm in 2012. However, in August 2010, a journal of research from an Australian astronomer named David Reneke again raised this issue. Suddenly, the issue of solar storms and 2012 again became a hot issue this month. Should we be concerned?

Some marketers believe that doomsday in 2012, a super solar storm will bake the earth and everything in it. This means the end of the world total for the earth as depicted in the movie Knowing. Although the prediction is disputed by scientists, including NASA itself, but at least all agree that the upcoming solar storms could bring the possibility of damage to communications networks worldwide.

Massive Damage on the telecommunications system like that has ever occurred in 1859 when the events known as the Carrington event.

Carrington Event

On September 1, 1859, Richard Carrington, the Sun celebrated British astronomer who was then 33 years old, was in observatoriumnya while making observations.

As usual, Carrington observed solar image through the projection on a screen generated by the telescope. With his meticulous drawing of sunspots visible.

Suddenly, in front of his eyes, he saw two points of a blinding white light appeared over the black spots of the sun. Points of light that looks more intense and soon transformed into such form of kidney.

"I immediately ran to call others to participate to watch. When I came back 60 seconds later, I was surprised because the point it has changed shape."

The scene only lasts for 5 minutes. But what caused to the planet earth will always be remembered as one of the most amazing astronomical event (or scary) thing that ever happened.

What is seen Carrington is a white flame sun (White solar flare) that appears due to the sun's magnetic explosion. The explosion not only produce light visible to the eye, but also produces a super giant cloud of particles that emit magnetic vortex, known as coronal mass ejection (CME).

CME created it moves directly toward the Earth and arrive in just 18 hours. It's quite remarkable, considering that generally the way it will be within 3 or 4 days. When the CME hit the Earth, which envelops the Earth's magnetic field becomes disturbed so as to create the largest Geomagnetic storms ever recorded in history.

The sky above the earth immediately met with Aurora red, green and purple. The lights were so extraordinary that looks dark night bright as day. Remarkably, the aurora can be seen that even in tropical regions such as Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Hawaii.

However, the effect is not only there. Performing the beautiful aurora was accompanied by major damage to communication systems in Europe and America.

Suddenly, the entire telegraph system a mess. Sparks looks at the telegraph machines so surprising that operators are on duty. Even when the battery is disconnected the telegraph, the electric current induced by the aurora make these machines can still send messages.

This event gives new meaning to the astronomers on solar activity and its impact on human life.

Within 2 or 3 years from now, there is a possibility that we may face similar problems. This warning was recently given by David Reneke that issued the prediction in the Australasian Journal of Science.

Overview of Solar Storms
There are many misconceptions about this phenomenon of solar storms. For those who do not understand, solar storms are often regarded as extraordinary events are very rare. Though not so.

The sun has cycles average 11 years (between 9-14 years old) who started from the period of low activity, called solar minimum, until the period in which increased activity, called the Solar Maximum. The last solar maximum occurred in 2000.

Thus, the solar storm is not really strange events are rare. Fenemena this is a normal part of life cycle of the sun.

During the period of solar maximum, appearing Spot Sun (sunspots), the dark spots on the sun's surface caused by the magnetic field lines break through the surface of the sun.

Because the sun is not solid objects like the Earth, different parts of the sun rotate at different speeds as well. This will cause magnetic field lines become chaotic, causing the formation of Solar Flare (The flames of the sun) is sometimes accompanied by coronal mass ejection (CME).

These events are often referred to as the Sun Solar Storm or Hurricane.

If the CME as it moves toward earth, it carries particles will hit Earth's magnetosphere which then would create the aurora.

Prediction David Reneke
Back to the predictions Reneke, he said, solar storms that will occur in 2012 has the potential to hit the earth with a force equivalent to 100 million hydrogen bombs. This power will certainly destroy the entire system of satellites around the world, who fear that brings the earth back to the stone age.

Of course this prediction is not something new because similar events have occurred in previous years. However, that concern by Reneke is a potential strength.

"Generally, the astronomers agreed that the upcoming solar maximum will be the most powerful in the last 100 years." Reneke said.

"Some believe that this incident will affect the airlines, telecommunications companies and anyone who works with a modern GPS system. Cyclone is able to turn off an orbiting satellite." Added.

Then how do other astronomers?

NASA itself is not too worried about this incident, but they did have anticipated this storm since 2006. They also estimate that this storm could affect power plants in various places so that not only the telecommunications industry or the troubled airline, but also other industries such as banking and related thereto.

The storm was expected to happen by 2012 end. But they also admitted that no one will ever know for sure how much damage they can effect.

U.S. National Academy of Sciences had estimated that the damage that might occur could bring a loss of about 1 to 2 trillion U.S. dollars and takes up to 10 years to recover fully.

Solar storm on a scale large enough to have occurred also in 1989 and caused a blackout all over Quebec, Canada. In the solar storm in 2003, Sweden and South Africa also suffered a similar fate.

Then, a simple question often asked by many people. If true super solar storm occurred in 2012, whether the storm will produce flames that can devour the whole earth and everything like in the movies Knowing?

The answer is: No!

What will happen?
Although it sounded so chaotic, real human beings and other living things on earth safely protected. At the time of the previous solar storms, living things on earth in no way affected. However, the technology that we have indeed vulnerable to this phenomenon.

Just as happened in 1859, or the year when Quebec, Sweden and South Africa made blackout, solar storms that will come to shed our communication system.

In view of our infrastructure is very dependent on the telecommunication network, the telecom collapse event may be brought paralysis in other systems, such as finance and transport.

A blast of strong solar storms could bring damage to the intervening power source and our communication channels. This will cause the system to become overloaded and eventually damaged.

According to one report issued by the National Academy of Science United States, when the storm occurred, about 300 power plants in America could be paralyzed in just 90 seconds. This will decide the electricity supply to 130 million inhabitants.

Once the grid is lost, water supplies will also be disconnected. Without electricity and water supply, then the economy will be paralyzed. There is no office and transportation activities, such as airplanes or trains. Even vital facilities such as military bases or hospitals will also be paralyzed. In other words Chaos!

However, it is the worst scenario.

The good news is, humans have learned from the past.

Space agency NASA and other countries in the world already know clearly that solar flares can disable satellites system. Because of that long ago, NASA has sent several spacecraft to monitor solar activity. Currently, these vehicles, such as ACE or SOHO, still diligently monitor the changes that occur in solar activity.

If it detects a vehicle for CME, the sensor will immediately generate a warning that gives enough time for humans of the earth (us) to take anticipatory measures, such as changing our satellite system into "safe mode". Thus, the damage caused will be very minimal. Anticipation that the same was also done to infrastructure and other power sources.

Yup, we really have learned. Just as we have learned to anticipate the Y2K Millennium Bug 10 years ago.

Because it is the opinion of David Reneke also got quite a lot of criticism. For example, from his fellow Australian astronomer named Dr.. Phil Wilkinson of Bureu of Meteorology Ionospheric Prediction Service.

He said damage to the satellite will be very minimal. In fact he rejected the assumption that solar storms that will happen is the strongest in 100 years.

"All these statements are selling, but I'm sure it all too much." He said. "The message really is, solar storms that will come the same dangers with solar storms before."

Dr. Wilkinson also said that even if the communication system is interrupted, then nature will only be temporary and local. In addition, he had another reason. According to the monitoring of the astronomers, the solar activity cycle this time was not as strong as previously thought. This makes solar astronomers believe that the sun may be entering a period of "little ice age". This observation is inversely proportional to the prediction Reneke.

So, no need to worry.

Disaster Plan
Well, now, suppose you are still concerned about the solar storm in 2012, you might ask: "How about David Reneke is right? So what should I do to prepare themselves in facing this disaster?"

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a type of disaster management agencies in the United States, have an answer to this question. Since a long time they also had anticipated the possibility of infrastructure damage due to this phenomenon.

According to Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator, at least, the effects of solar storms is probably about the same as the effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods or earthquakes. Thus, he argues, the standard preparation is adequate. Such as storing water supplies, food, P3K equipment, spare batteries and flashlights and cooking equipment.

In other words, what we need to prepare the same as preparing for natural disasters in general.

Therefore, no need to worry at all. If our telecommunications system was paralyzed, we can not use a mobile phone, blackberry or facebook. However, I believe we will still survive.


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