NASA Doubtful ‘Killer’ Solar Flare Will Destroy Earth

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 11:30 pm (UTC-4)
1 comment

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft captured this image of a solar flare as it erupted from the sun (Photo: NASA/SOHO)

Image of a solar flare erupting from the sun (Photo: NASA/SOHO)

O.K. ladies and gentlemen,  we’ve addressed the topic of solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other aspects of solar weather several times in the past.  And we get great comments and questions from you about this, too.

So here’s another post with a good answer to the nagging question;  will Earth be destroyed by a killer solar flare?  In a word, according to NASA, no.

Yes, we here on terra firma do get banged and zapped from time to time by great bursts of electromagnetic energy and particles from the sun. That can cause disruptions to satellite and other forms of electronic communications, as well as jeopardize segments of our power grid.

In today’s technologically-rich environment, those outbursts from the sun can be a bit more than inconvenient. But, it appears that more and more people seem to be getting worked up over the Earth coming to an abrupt end, courtesy of a catastrophic blast from the sun.

A date inscription for the Mayan Long Count (Photo: Maunus via Creative Commons)

A date inscription for the Mayan Long Count (Photo: Maunus via Creative Commons)

For some, this fear has been heightened by the so-called the “2012 phenomenon.”  The Mayan long count calendar finishes its 5,125-year-long cycle on Dec. 21, 2012, and some believe that will result in the destruction of our planet due to any number of terrestrial or extraterrestrial calamities.

Some believe it will be in the form of a gigantic killer solar flare, which would hurl enough of the sun’s energy at us to destroy Earth.  Couple the 2012 phenomenon with the fact that solar activity is ramping up in its standard 11-year cycle, and more credence is given to those who believe the sun will be the cause of Earth’s undoing.

But please be assured that this same solar cycle, which peaks with something called the solar maximum, has repeated itself over and over many times throughout the millennia.

If you’re older than 11, you’ve already lived through at least one solar maximum with no harm done.  To those worried about its effect on the 2012 phenomenon, the next solar maximum is predicted to occur in late 2013 or early 2014, not 2012.

NASA assures us, most importantly, that there simply isn’t enough energy in the sun to hurl a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth.

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

One response to “NASA Doubtful ‘Killer’ Solar Flare Will Destroy Earth”

  1. dhan says:

    NASA is blowing hot and cold about the solar flares and they are in confused state of mind . They are not able to assess the real gravity of the solar flares. One day they say 2013 solar flares is worriesome and could be devastating and after certain months they say it is not going to kill the earth. whom are they trying to fool. No human can predict what is in store tomorrow.

    Incidental to this , It is well known fact strong solar flares can destablise geomagnetic field of earth. If strong solar flare hits the earth surface, then there is a great possibility of huge earthquake to hit earth and thus then there could be phenomenal disturbance on the earth , thus if not killing the earth, such solar flare can devastate the whole living being on earth. Can NASA give a guarantee such phenomenon may not happen. They are not Gods but only humans

    Secondly, some scientist feel that Solar stroms or flares, of very high magnitude , can trigger such an distrubance on the geomagentic field of earth, in such a way that north pole could turn into south pole and wise a versa. Imagine, if such situation suddenly happen on the earth, where would be the living beings, In a giffy, all that on the earth crest can be thrown out of the earth surface. Will NASA clarify , such a phenomenon is not possible or is not going to happen?