Solar Storms Building Toward Peak in 2013, NASA Predicts

by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Assistant Managing Editor
Date: 09 August 2011 Time: 05:06 PM ET

This image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the X6.9 solar flare of Aug. 9, 2011 near the western limb (right edge) of the sun. CREDIT: NASA/SDO/Weather.com

Solar flares like the huge one that erupted on the sun early today (Aug. 9) will only become more common as our sun nears its maximum level of activity in 2013, scientists say.

Tuesday’s flare was the most powerful sun storm since 2006, and was rated an X6.9 on the three-class scale for solar storms (X-Class is strongest, with M-Class in the middle and C-Class being the weakest).

Flares such as this one could become the norm soon, though, as our sun’s 11-year cycle of magnetic activity ramps up, scientists explained. The sun is just coming out of a lull, and scientists expect the next peak of activity in 2013. The current cycle, called Solar Cycle 24, began in 2008.

“We still are on the upswing with this recent burst of activity,” said Phil Chamberlin, a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is a deputy project scientist for the agency’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a sun-studying satellite that launched in February 2010. “We could definitely in the next year or two see more events like this; there’s a potential to see larger events as well.”

A more active sun

Earth got lucky with the most recent flare, which wasn’t pointed directly at Earth; therefore, it didn’t send the brunt of its charged particles toward us, but out into space. However, we may not be so fortunate in the future, experts warned.

“We’re in the new cycle, it is building and we’ll see events like this one,” said Joe Kunches, a space scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center. “They’ll be much more commonplace and we’ll get more used to them.”

Spacecraft such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which recorded amazing videos of the Aug. 9 solar flare, and other observatories will be vital in monitoring the sun during its active phase, researchers said.

How sun storms form

Storms brew on the sun when pent-up energy from tangled magnetic field lines is released in the form of light, heat and charged particles. This can create a brightening on the sun called a flare, and is also often accompanied by the release of a cloud of plasma called a coronal mass ejection (CME).

These ejections are the part we Earthlings have to worry about.

As the CME careens through space, it can send a horde of charged particles toward our planet that can damage satellites, endanger astronauts in orbit, and interfere with power systems, communications and other infrastructure on the ground.

“We’re well aware of the difficulties and challenges,” Kunches told SPACE.com. “We know more about the sun than we ever have.”

Can we predict solar storms?

When a big storm occurs, the Space Weather Prediction Center releases a warning to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, emergency managers and agencies responsible for protecting power grids. Then power grids can distribute power and reduce their loads to protect themselves.

Satellite and power companies are also trying to design technology that can better withstand the higher radiation loads unleashed by solar storms.

Still, scientists would like to offer more advanced warnings when big storms are headed our way.

“We’re being reactive, we’re not being proactive,” Chamberlin said. “We don’t know how to predict these things, which would be nice.”

Chamberlin said solar science has come a long way in recent years, though, and the goal of SDO and other NASA projects is to improve our understanding of the sun and our ability to forecast space weather.

You can follow SPACE.com senior writer Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz. Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Solar Storms Building Toward Peak in 2013, NASA Predicts | Solar Flares & Storms | Space & Solar Weather | Space.com.

Exact Date Of Deluge Established By Scientists

MONDAY, 02 APRIL 2012 11:48

The increasing number of natural disasters worldwide has become the subject of much debate and forecasts among scientists. The last global catastrophic event on a planetary scale which humanity still remembers thanks to the Old Testament is the Flood. A fundamental book by famous scientists Victor Khain and Elchin Khalilov titled “Cyclicity of geodynamic processes: its possible nature” refers to amazing geological facts that reveal the exact date of the Flood. Below is quoted a small part of the section describing the geological interpretation of this event.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, large landslides and rock falls, volcanic eruptions, particularly violent hurricanes are certainly geological hazards. They take thousands, occasionally tens and even hundreds of thousands of human lives, and it is not surprising that a special international program is dedicated to forecasting hazardous situations and possible mitigation of their consequences.

Evidently, the most violent catastrophe in the recent history of Earth has been the one described in the Old Testament as the Deluge. For a long time, until the appearance in the 1820s of works by English geologists W. Buckland and A. Sedgwick, this event was regarded as a real one and the entire history of Earth was divided into two eras: before and after the Deluge. However, the views of “diluvianists” as they were called (“diluvio” is Latin for flood) were later rejected and even ridiculed. Nowadays it turns out that there is much truth in the Old Testament writings. Austrian scientists from the Vienna University Edith Cristian Tollman and Alexander Tollman have published a serious research (Cristian-Tollman and Tollman) in which, based on analysis of different sources, the precise date of this event is established: September 23, 9545 ВС, i.e., the beginning of the Holocene.

The event itself interpreted as collision of Earth with a comet main fragments of which fell into the ocean triggered an earthquake of enormous proportion, violent volcano eruptions, huge tsunami waves, global-scale hurricanes and rainfall, sharp temperature rise, forest fires, and overall darkening followed by cooling (of the “nuclear winter” type). The Deluge caused extinction of a number of species of the then-existing terrestrial fauna including mammoths, while primitive humans survived only in caves. One of evidences of that event is the rain-like precipitation of rounded tektites over a vast area covering Asia, Australia, Southern India, and Madagascar. The age of tektite-bearing layers in Vietnam (about 10 thousand years, Izokh, 1991) coincides with the timing of the “flood” established by the Tollmans according to other data: annual tree rings, sharp increase in the acid content in the Greenland ice cover, time of mammoth extinction in Siberia.

There is every reason to suggest that similar hazards triggered by collisions with comets (like the Tunguska event) or by falling of large meteorites (asteroids) have repeatedly occurred in earlier geological era, causing “great extinctions” of fauna and flora. The list of natural disasters of purely terrestrial origin should be complemented with those related to the space-earth interactions.

So, the data on current geological processes, both endogenic and exogenic, shows that they develop in a continuous-intermittent manner and their slow smooth course is interrupted by sharp accelerations, the effect of which during short time intervals is much greater than that of slow changes occurring during much longer time intervals separating those accelerations*

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* Khain V.E., Khalilov E.N. CYCLICITY IN GEODYNAMIC PROCESSES: ITS POSSIBLE NATURE – Moscow: Scientific World, 2009. – 520 p. ISBN 978-5-91522-082-8

Exact Date Of Deluge Established By Scientists.

Meteorite rock crashes through family’s roof

Friday April 6, 2012 1:22 AM NZT

Anne Margrethe Thomassen looks at what is thought to be a meteorite that split in two after hitting the roof of her cottage in central Oslo on March 12, 2012. The meteorite was discovered on March 1

A Norwegian family was flabbergasted to find that what appeared to be a piece of a meteorite had crashed through the roof of their allotment garden hut in the middle of Oslo.

The rock weighing 585 grams, which split in two, probably detached from a meteorite observed over Norway on March 1, experts said, and had landed on the empty hut in the Thomassen family’s allotment in a working-class neighbourhood of the Norwegian capital.

Astrophysicist Knut Joergen Roed Oedegaard and his wife Anne Mette Sannes, a meteorite enthusiast, identified the object as a breccia, or a rock composed of broken fragments of minerals or rock.

“It is a sensation in more than one way. On one hand because it is rare that a piece of meteorite goes through a roof and on the other hand because it is a breccia, which is even harder to find,” Sannes said.

She said the owners of the meteorite pieces wanted to keep them in Norway, maybe in a museum.

Meteorites speed through space and generally break up as they enter our atmosphere, but it is extremely rare for the debris to fall on inhabited areas, according to Serge Koutchmy, a researcher at the Paris Astrophysical Institute.

“This family is very lucky,” Koutchmy said.

“First off because the piece of meteorite did not cause much damage, but also because it is worth a small fortune,” he said.

A meteorite from Mars, for instance, can fetch about 5000 kroner ($850) per gram, according to geophysicist Hans Amundsen quoted on the website of the Verdens Gang newspaper, adding though that it remained unclear where the meteorite pieces that landed in Oslo came from and how rare they were.

– AFP

via Meteorite rock crashes through family’s roof – Space – NZ Herald News.