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No Killer Solar Flare to Happen: Russian Scientists Promise
June 22, 2011 16:49

A magnetic storm, cause by a solar flare

Recently British newspapers announced another “end of the world” happening within the next 18 months, when extremely powerful solar flare would destroy the whole industry of power engineering and all electronic devices on our planet, as well as orbital space ships and satellites. Russian physicists advise to keep calm and do not believe these gloomy prophecies.

Russian researchers from Lebedev Institute of Physics (Russian academy of sciences) explain that predictions of catastrophic magnetic storms and powerful solar flares cannot be made for the periods of several months, because science is not powerful enough to do it. Those, who claim that such predictions can be done, are motivated by anything but science.

The Daily Star newspaper recently wrote that British government was working out a special plan in case of solar misbehavior with reference to
Chris Huhne, British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Solar flares are often accompanied by solar plasma ejections – charged particles, which travel towards the Earth, “hit” its magnetosphere and cause disturbances. These disturbances, which are magnetic storms, lead to radio blackouts, damage satellites and even cause breakdown of electric facilities. However, scientists believe that long-term predictions of such events are impossible.

“Predictions about catastrophes on the Sun can often be seen in mass media, especially close to year 2012, when the world is expected by some people to come to an end”, says Sergey Bogachev, doctor of sciences, “but they are not based upon scientific data”. People, who make such predictions, often have nothing to do with real science. Motivation of such loud statement is often obscure.

Studying and explaining space weather is still a very young science, like meteorology was one hundred years ago, when it only started developing as a field of knowledge. “Relatively accurate predictions of solar activity can be given only for two-three days in advance”, the scientist says, “Telling Sun’s behavior in June for August is hardly possible, and telling it for January is totally impossible”.

Current situation with the Sun is as following: first six months of 2011 were notable for 44 intensive solar flares of class M and X (this means that p
eak energy flux in watts in the highest). Last year researchers detected only 22 solar flares for 12 months, and in 2009 the Sun was almost dormant with no flares throughout the year. However, over 800 solar flares were detected during peak activity of the star between 2000 and 2002.

“Abovementioned data show that even if we see something like rapidly growing solar activity, it is still weak compared to the recent periods of intensive plasma
ejections, leaving apart historical peaks of solar activity”, the scientist explains. Scientists are happy that people are so much interested in the Sun and everything, connected with our star, but we should not forget about common sense, when hearing something like predictions of catastrophes.

RIA Novosti

Anna Kizilova

Author: Anna Kizilova

Tags: Russian academy of sciences physics space the Sun  

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