Space has been going through a lot of strange and potentially disastrous activity in the past few months. These strange occurrences come in the form of a gigantic hole in the outer layer surface of the Sun. While it is not usually for the Sun to sprout random outer surface holes every eleven years or so, this recent one is drastically different and out of the ordinary. The newest blemish is definitely going to bring about many changes to Earth, and maybe even bring about some speculations on the future of the Sun.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory revealed the gigantic hole in the Sun, being approximately the size of 50 Earths. The hole on the outer layer is known as a Coronal hole – a part of the sun that constantly changes and reshapes. It is a darker and colder region of the sun, with lower-density plasma, lower energy, and lower gas levels. These holes have a weakened magnetic field around them, allowing more charger particles to be released. The particles, in turn, create a plethora of dangerous space effects. Some of the effects are geomagnetic storms, solar winds, and solar flares.
One of the most recent effects the coronal hole in the Sun had on Earth was the complete shutting down of a Swedish airport. The solar storms disrupted and knocked out all of the air trafficking equipment. Earth’s magnetic field seemed to be focused around the southern part of Sweden, since no other neighboring countries had any problems with their radar and control systems. While the storms did not shut down Sweden’s airspace for a long time, it still kept flights grounded for more than an hour.
Going more in-depth in the science of this gigantic hole in the Sun, the least dangerous coronal hole side-effects on Earth are the lower-level geomagnetic storms. Geomagnetic storms – when they are not severe – enhance the northern lights. Auroras extend farther south, becoming brighter and more obvious to the naked eye. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Space Weather Prediction Center keep up with these expanding northern lights and severity of the storms.
Worldwide disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field begin to occur when geomagnetic storms heighten in severity. Damages of Earth-orbiting satellites, loss of electrical power in large regions, and exploding transformers are a few of the issues that can happen with larger particle release from the Sun.
The worst of the effects with the coronal holes come from solar flares. These are associated with coronal mass ejections, releasing electrons, protons, and ions. All of these particles have high levels of energy and radiation, disturbing many parts of the Earth. It messes up the ionosphere – Earth’s outer atmosphere including the thermosphere and parts of the exosphere and mesosphere – disrupting radio communications.
As the magnetic field on the Sun gets weaker and the coronal holes expand larger and larger, other more alarming effects can happen. Hypothetically, these effects can cause extremely catastrophic events in the realm of technology. Intense solar flares could have the potential of wiping out all forms of electronics and technology, leaving radiation that would heat Earth’s outer atmosphere and expand it. Even though this may not seem to be much of a disaster, the expansion could have the potential power of shutting down technology for a long amount of time, depending on the intensity of the solar flare and how much of the radiation gets to Earth.
While earlier times in history would not have such a catastrophic outlook on upcoming solar flares, the modern age will definitely be in a state of chaos. A great majority of the world in the modern day is completely depended on electronics, whether it be on a personal level or a corporation level. With technology advancing so fast and it being integrated into everyday life, in the big or small things, a world without the access of technology would indeed be detrimental.
Consequences of not having technology at hand in an age so reliant on it would come in four forms: the personal use, corporations, health, and nuclear reactors. The least damaging would be the loss of personal technology. This would mean no more phones, computers, televisions, and even electricity. No more weekly shows on television or surfing the web on Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr. On the other end of that, the loss of technology would destroy businesses that solely rely on technology. Backup files would be gone, emails would not work, and everything that holds a corporate business together would fall apart.
In the medical field, technology has become an important part to research and development. In an age where living longer is also in abundance, the loss of technology would put a stop to a lot of health and science progress. Labs for research would have to be shut down, hospital equipment would stop working properly, medicated drugs would not be able to be made anymore, and those with health aids would cease to work.
Technology has advanced enough that alternative, but dangerous, ways of generating power have been created: nuclear reactors. Every one of these facilities go through a long process of keeping the radioactive excess within the facilities, and if these measures are not taken, catastrophic events occur. Technology is the sole barrier between the dangerous radioactive materials and the outside world. The solar flares would completely disrupt all of these failsafe measures, resulting is poisonous materials to be unleashed across Earth.
If the Sun does somehow create larger coronal holes in the future, with the Earth finding its way in the path of intensely powerful solar flares, it may indeed be the end of the age of technology.