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Solar storm swept away cosmic rays reaching the atmosphere

Solar storm swept away cosmic rays reaching the atmosphere

The stratosphere, at an average of 12 to 50 kilometers high, is where the greatest amount of cosmic rays that surround the Earth are concentrated, guilty of ionizing radiation that is capable of damaging electronic circuits and affects health.

In explosive mode on July 16, the Sun launched into space at full speed a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) and this mass composed of plasma or electrically charged ionized particles collided violently with the Earth's magnetic field, from where it slid towards the latitudes high or polar areas of the Earth generating geomagnetic storms and brightly colored auroras for two days.

The solar storm cloud not only affected communications but "swept away" some of the cosmic rays that currently surround Earth, "said the Spaceweather Space Weather team, in conjunction with the Earth to Sky Calculus students, who launched The balloon.

As a result, "a 7% decrease in X-rays and gamma rays (two secondary cosmic ray tracers) was detected," the report says.

The energy released by atoms in the form of electromagnetic waves such as X-rays and gamma rays, as well as in the form of particles: neutrons and alpha and beta particles, is what the WHO (World Health Organization) defines as ionizing radiation.


In fact, after the solar storm, the Space Weather team found a drop in neutron input to Earth. Monitors in the Arctic and Antarctica recorded decreases similar to ganma rays.

"For example, data from the Bartol Research Institute shows a nearly 8% drop in cosmic ray neutrons reaching the South Pole," the report says.

The observed gamma-ray and neutron decline after the solar storm was first described by physicist Scott E. Forbush in the 20th century, concluding that wherever CMEs go in space or hitting Earth's atmosphere, lightning strikes Cosmic clouds are diverted into their own plasma clouds.

Astronomers conclude that "as a result, when solar activity is high, the cosmic radiation around the Earth is relatively low, and when it is low, this radiation increases."

"It is a yin-yang relationship that is maintained throughout all phases of the solar cycle" highlights the Space Weather team ...

In this period, solar activity is low as our star entered the period that leads to the Solar Minimum predicted for 2019-20, which occurs every 11 years.

Health effects

Both extreme or cumulative mass exposures to X-rays and gamma rays are harmful to health. In immediate mode, extreme doses can cause skin burns, hair loss, cancer, mental retardation and even death, according to the WHO.

According to the New York Medical Center, the cosmic radiation that can be registered in high-altitude flights is also very dangerous as it is one of the causes of health disorders due to interruption of electrical circuits in electronic devices. This has been recorded, for example, in automatic defibrillators implanted in patients. Its failure can cause arrhythmias and heart disease.

It also affects the circuits of laptops, cell phones and personal digital assistants.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - ionizing radiation, including neutron radiation, "has enough energy to cause chemical changes in cells and damage them," that is, it can cause cell death.

Where do cosmic rays come from?

According to researchers from NASA's Fermi telescope, “supermassive black holes, merging neutron stars, streams of hot gas moving close to the speed of light (…) are some of the wonders that generate radiation gamma rays, the most energetic form of radiation, billions of times more energetic than the type of light that is visible to our eyes ”.

The powerful gamma rays are derived from photons emitted after certain interactions of nitrogen and oxygen atoms. They are superior waves because they travel at much shorter lengths and at much higher frequencies than X-rays, which in turn are 50 to 50,000 times greater than visible light waves. X-rays are also derived from atoms.

Space physics explains that when cosmic rays collide with the upper atmosphere, they in turn destroy nitrogen and oxygen atoms, resulting in the emission of many particles that travel at different speeds, with different degrees of energy.

A part of these particles are neutrons that do not recombine, but travel until they collide with the gases in the atmosphere, which slow them down. If some daring neutrons continue their journey and hit the surface of airships and some more daring, they reach Earth. These are usually recorded by instruments installed in the Arctic and Antarctic, where the number is higher.

The problem is that there are high-energy neutrons that are more harmful. According to Professor Jeffey Wyses of the University of Cassino, a single neutron is enough to affect electronic circuits.

Previous studies have shown that most of the neutrons that reach the earth's surface do not affect electronic circuits, but it is enough that some pass near silicone atoms and there they affect them. "As a result, the creation of secondary particles" occurs, which affect the electronic system. This has been shown with damage to memory cells in industrial equipment, such as SRAM memories.

The Epoch Times


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