Solar storms consist of violent explosions of plasma and charged particles, called flares and above all, coronal mass ejections.
A solar storm occurs when the solar cycle reaches its maximum activity and just after. That is, when the magnetic activity of the Sun is stronger and begins to descend. Normally, coronal mass ejections occur after a fulguration, but this is not always the case.
There is a solar maximum every 11 years. The last one began at the end of 2012 and lasted during 2013.
The magnetic activity of the Sun causes plasma loops to form on its surface. When the magnetic activity is stronger, there are so many loops that collide with each other and cause huge plasma explosions. They reach a temperature of tens of millions of degrees.
During a solar storm, millions of tons of plasma and charged particles are expelled and spread throughout the Solar System, along with a large amount of X-rays and gamma rays, the most powerful radiation that exists. The radiation reaches Earth in 8 minutes, as it travels at the speed of light. Fortunately, our atmosphere protects us.
The charged particles take us to reach one to three days, although sometimes they arrive in just a few hours. They collide with the Earth's magnetic field, compress it and pass to the upper layers of the atmosphere. They charge the atmosphere with the power of billions of watts.
They cause overload in electrical networks, blackouts, satellite and telecommunications failures, air traffic disturbances, etc. Our technology makes us increasingly vulnerable to solar storms.
It is not yet possible to predict when a solar storm will occur. In addition, when it occurs, there are few hours available to react.
The strongest solar storm recorded so far was in 1859, and is known as the Carrington event. He broke the telegraph network and produced aurora borealis so spectacular that they were seen even in Spain. Today, although they are not so strong, they produce more damage, since almost all our technology depends on electromagnetic waves.
The solar storm with the greatest economic losses was that of 1989, which left more than 7 million people without power in Quebec.
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