The Sun sends out a constant stream of particles and energy, which drives a complex space weather system near Earth and can affect spacecraft and astronauts. NASA has chosen five new mission concept studies for further development to study various aspects of this dynamic system. (Credits: NASA)
SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — Over the course of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, the star goes through a period of increased and decreased activity. When this activity ramps up, sometimes phenomena such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), where massive amounts of radiation and solar particles erupt out from the Sun’s surface, can wreak havoc if our planet happens to be in the way of the blast.
The list below describes some of the more notable instances when this has occurred and their effects. NOAA studies the Sun so that we can better understand and forecast solar activity with the aim of mitigating potential issues like these in the future.
Sept 1, 1859
Astronomers Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson independently observed patches of intensely bright light on the solar surface shortly before the Earth was hit by a very strong solar storm. The following day, strange things started ...