Solar flares represent vast releases of energy
in the form of high energy charged particles shot
forth from the sun. This radiation will damage
most anything, but some things are much more
vulnerable to it than others.
Since the particles are charged, they induce
electric fields. Anything designed to
detect electric fields (such as antennas of any
kind) will be interfered with for this reason. The
electric fields, if strong enough (there are
enough particles, or the particles are energetic
enough), then they will induce currents in
ordinary wiring, which can fry electronics. An
EMP wave (Electro Magnetic Pulse) from a
nuclear blast or as used in various
science-fiction stories and movies will do the
same, for the same reason.
The earth's atmosphere acts as a shield against
these particles, as does the earth's magnetic
field (it channels them into the poles, where they
cause Auroras). Consequently, these pulses of
particles are most damaging on things in space,
such as global communication satellites.
The output of solar flares is usually not enough,
however, that astronauts get radiation sickness
from the brief exposures that they have in space.
These particles from the sun do interact with the
atmosphere, however, producing the radioactive
Carbon 14. Between ten and twenty percent of
the radioactivity that we humans are subject to on
a daily basis comes from these radioactive
isotopes in the atmosphere made by the sun (most
of the rest is radon released from
radioactivity in the earth, and atmospheric
effects from cosmic rays from outer space.
Nuclear power/weapons is actually less than a
Solar flares are storms of magnetic
energy. Here on Earth, they mostly affect us
by interfering with cell phones, causing static on
the radio, and causing blackouts.
Satellites, however, can experience a lot
more damage because of solar flares. Solar flares
send electrical currents through the satellites
that damage sensitive electronic equipment inside.
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