Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Solar-Flare Surprise: Pure Hydrogen Shot at Earth

From Fox News:

A surprising solar flare sent a stream of pure hydrogen at Earth.

"We've detected a stream of perfectly intact hydrogen atoms shooting out of an X-class solar flare," said researcher Richard Mewaldt of Caltech. "If we can understand how these atoms were produced, we'll be that much closer to understanding solar flares."

Solar flares occur when the sun's twisted magnetic fields suddenly release their stored energy.

The energy jolts are classified into three categories, with X-class solar flares being major events that can trigger radio blackouts around the world and long-lasting radiation storms in the upper atmosphere.

(M-class are medium-sized flares and C-class are small flares with few consequences on Earth.)
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