Superflares – not just a fashion statement

The sun is a constant in our planet’s life – providing fundamental forces by which we exist. So it may come as a surprise to discover that some Scientists have concerns about a potential catastrophic risk from the sun that may occur any time within the next 100 years: a solar super flare.

Such an event happened 150 years ago, when an extreme solar storm sent massive flares towards us. (This is the 1st recorded event). At that time it disrupted telegraph systems across the Western world; but of course, since then, our technology growth has been enormous and a similar solar flare today would cause similarly extensive damage. A super flare could potentially close down such integral necessities as power grids, satellites, computers and even the cooling systems of nuclear reactors. A super flare larger than the one experienced in 1859 would even have the potential to damage our ozone layer.

Despite these dire warnings, there is apparently little concern about the risks from super flares – it seems there is much more focus on potential catastrophes from impacting Asteroids. However, some scientists are beginning to consider ways of defending Earth from such an event, including the use of as magnetic shields in space, It is this solution that involves the interaction between glow discharges (plasmas) and magnetic fields which can be exploited in the technique of magnetron sputtering. However, at the moment such a resolution is cost-prohibitive. At the very least, say concerned scientists, more awareness and research is needed.

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