What would happen if a solar flare hit the Earth? Extreme ultraviolet light streams out of an X-class solar flare as seen in this image captured on March 29, 2014, by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. This image blends two wavelengths of light: 304 and 171 Angstroms, which help scientists observe the lower levels of the sun's atmosphere. (NASA)
What would happen if a solar flare hit the Earth?
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You asked us.
 
What would happen if a solar flare hit the Earth?
 
Well, if you want to be really picky about it, a solar flare can't hit the Earth. It's an eruption on the surface of the sun. But a big flare can send a solar super storm hurtling towards Earth. It could blast us back into the days before electricity. 

It's hard to describe how much scary stuff comes out of a solar super storm. It includes hot gasses moving at near light speeds, deadly radiation, insane magnetic fields, you name it. We had a taste of a pretty big solar storm back in 1859. It knocked out the entire telegraph system in the U.S. and literally jolted some of the operators out of their seats. 

Fast forward to today, where we're so completely dependent on technology that things can get really ugly. A storm as powerful as the 1859 version will probably fry a lot of satellites and our electrical grid. Millions of people could be without light, water, fuel, sewage treatment, perishable food and meds for months.
 
And not to mention money. Your cash machine will be kaput. 

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What does the author mean by "fast forward to today?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (95)
  • sindhujaaj-win
    9/21/2015 - 07:43 p.m.

    If the solar flare hit the earth today ,it will fry a lot of satellites and electric grid. People might be without light, water, fuel , sewage treatment,perishable food.The cash machine will be broken.Since we depend more on technology, the effect of the solar flare will give us a very bad experience.
    From,Sindhujaa

  • arnavb-win
    9/21/2015 - 07:51 p.m.

    I think this article is very interesting because I like studying about the sun, the planets, and space. I like learning about what would happen to the Earth if comets, meteors etc. hit the Earth.

  • nathanv-win
    9/21/2015 - 07:58 p.m.

    I think if that happens we whould all get elecurfied and some people may die

  • hibbam-win
    9/21/2015 - 10:10 p.m.

    I hope this never happends again, even though it already happend once! And what the author means by "flash forward to today" is that because he/she were talking about the big solar flare hit 1859, which is the past, then when he/she started to resume talking about the present.

  • pranavh-win
    9/21/2015 - 10:51 p.m.

    1. Switch over of author's explanations from 1859 to today
    2. The days passed by from 1859 till today
    3. It also means the development / changes which has taken place from 1859 till today

  • laurenw-win
    9/28/2015 - 03:39 p.m.

    That would be really sad

  • laurenw-win
    9/28/2015 - 03:39 p.m.

    Good thing it can't

  • laurenw-win
    9/28/2015 - 03:41 p.m.

    It's a eruption

  • williamk-win
    9/28/2015 - 07:31 p.m.

    I think the author means that 'fast forward to today' actually means 'up to today'.

  • aaronr1-win
    9/29/2015 - 08:53 a.m.

    He means skip all the time in between and come to modern times.

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