Sunlight and heat are essential to all life on Earth. However, the Sun often experiences occurrences known as solar flares, which cause billions of tons of plasma to be ejected into space at velocities of millions of kilometers per second. Some of these streams even descend to Earth like a meteor. Will Earth be able to resist a tremendously violent explosion on the Sun, or will not all life on our planet be destroyed? Live Science, a popular science journal, has correctly interpreted the consensus of the scientific community.
Scientists agree that it is difficult to foresee the precise consequences of a massive eruption and coronal mass ejection (these same plasma streams).
The magnetosphere, a shell formed by Earth’s magnetic field, is thought by most scientists to shield the planet from the Sun’s most intense events.
Geomagnetic storms are triggered when streams of charged particles from space clash with Earth’s magnetic field. Which, depending on the strength, might have knock-on effects for the functioning of Earth’s radio and energy networks and spacecraft operating close to the planet.
At the same time, the radiation carried by these charged particles is dangerous to all forms of life. However, our planet’s thick atmosphere shields us from harmful radiation. Alex Young, an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, claims that even the strongest solar flares have not caused any harm to Earth’s atmosphere.
Sunspots are places of tremendous electromagnetic activity created when magnetic field lines on our star twist. These are the locations most likely to see eruptions from the weakest to the most damaging of the five categories.
UV and X-ray radiation account for the bulk of a solar flare’s output. A coronal mass ejection occurs when the energy released during an eruption heats neighboring gas in the Sun’s atmosphere, releasing billions of tons of solar plasma (CME). If the sunspot is aligned with Earth, the CME will travel at high speed in our direction, arriving anywhere from 15 hours to several days later.
At this point in the Sun’s 11-year cycle, the frequency of flares and, by extension, the quantity of solar material expelled into space, are both rising rapidly. According to experts, most of these streams fragment very imperceptibly in Earth’s magnetosphere. However, the Earth’s magnetic field and plasma flows lead to the emergence of geomagnetic storms of varying strengths if the eruption of the Sun is powerful enough, and such occur and will be much more in the near future.
Some scientists worry that by 2024, when the Sun reaches its peak, huge flares might pose numerous difficulties for the world, despite the fact that it is almost impossible to anticipate the occurrence of flares on the Sun.
In particular, such eruptions may destroy almost all satellites in low Earth orbit, rendering navigation and communication throughout the globe impossible. Some researchers have even speculated that if the Sun’s radiation were to destroy Earth’s cable networks, it may lead to the end of the internet.
“Is it possible that some types of streams may destroy Earth? I can’t say for sure, but so far there hasn’t been a solar event powerful enough to cause noticeable changes in human health “According to Doug Biesecker, a space weather scientist at Stanford University.
Scientists agree that our star will not pose a danger to Earth or extinguish life on it in the next few billion years, before the Sun starts to transform into a red giant.
Although the sun does not pose an imminent danger to humanity, astronomers worry that other neighboring stars may. After exhausting their fuel, some stars explode in a massive supernova, sending intense radiation millions of light-years into space. Compared to solar flares, these explosions are astronomically more powerful. An explosion of a dying star might potentially destroy Earth’s protective ozone layer if it happens near enough to our home planet.
An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in August 2020 suggests that the demise of a star around 65 light-years from Earth may have done this 359 million years ago, near the close of the Devonian epoch (416 million to 358 million years ago). Scientists have yet to determine what triggered the mass extinction that extinguished 70 percent of Earth’s invertebrates at the conclusion of this era. However, analysis of ancient spores from the period of the die-off found evidence of UV light damage, raising the possibility that an exploding star was to blame.
The authors of the research note that there are currently no supernova candidates that are near enough to Earth to pose such a hazard. Our friendly environment keeps only our cozy tiny Sun as an enemy.
Meanwhile, experts say a region on the Sun the size of Earth has emerged and is headed straight for our planet. We anticipate a medium-power eruption soon, which might trigger a geomagnetic storm.
What scientists have also shown is how our Sun will change once it dies and whether or not we will be there to see it.