Radiation from Solar Events: Exploring the Radiant Energies of the Sun

More than providing us a steady stream of heat and light, the Sun actually affects space weather with the energy it emits – light, electrically charged particles and magnetic fields. 

The bursts of energy from various solar events constantly hits the Earth’s atmosphere and can actually affect communication systems and the biological DNA. This is why cosmic radiation is a concern for astronauts and space equipment. 

Here are some examples of solar events monitored and prepared for by space organisations:

Sunspots and Solar Flares

When you look at images of the Sun and see dark spots, these are the strong magnetic fields on the Sun’s surface. These magnetic fields are called Sunspots—they appear darker because they’re cooler. They prevent some of the 

Sun’s heat from reaching the surface.

Image from NASA

When these Sunspots interact and become active, they result in explosions of energy. These are what we call Solar Flares. They look like bright flashes of light and can last for a few minutes or as long as a few hours. 

Radiation from solar flares vary from radio waves to gamma rays. These can impact our planet only when they occur on the side facing Earth. Classified according to brightness, an X-class solar flare is big and can trigger radio blackouts, while an M-class solar flare can generally cause brief radio blackouts in the polar regions. The smaller ones, or C-class, have few noticeable effects.

The first ever recorded solar flare was on 1 September 1859. R Hodgson, one of the observers, described it as “the appearance of a very brilliant star of light, much brighter than the Sun’s surface, most dazzling to the protected eye, illuminating the upper edges of the adjacent spots and streaks, not unlike in effect the edging of the clouds at sunset.”

Image from NASA

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)

Coronal mass ejections hurl solar matter into space. Like a boiling pot of hot gas, the boiling can sometimes become intense and creates a big bubble that pops out from the surface. Instead of bubbles, CMEs are gigantic clouds of charged particles, primarily electrons and protons, along with a magnetic field. When interacting with the atmosphere, they cause the famous northern lights or aurora borealis.

To prepare for the impact of these solar events, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other space agencies like the European Space Agency (ESA) monitor the sun’s activity. There are also ground-based observatories and research institutions that observe and analyze the Sun’s activity, including the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) and the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in the United States, as well as various solar observatories and institutions in other countries.

Image from NASA

Radiation Monitoring in Aerospace

In May 2023, SensaWeb participated as a finalist in the Sustainability in Space Pitch Competition, hosted by the Boeing’s Aerospace Xelerated. SensaWeb’s real time radiation monitoring can provide information on the incidence and impact of radiation exposure in space, helping organisations make informed decisions for their safety.

Image from Dmitry Khanin

SensaWeb at Paris Air Show 2023

To introduce a proactive approach of real time monitoring and talk about everything aerospace radiation, SensaWeb will be at the Paris Air Show on June 19th-25th. The Show will bring together all the players in this global industry around the latest technological innovations.

The show is open from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. The first four days of the Show will be reserved for trade visitors, followed by three days open to the general public. Stop by the UK ADS stand to meet CEO & Founder Simon Turner!

Looking for area radiation monitors or personal radiation monitoring devices? You can count on SensaWeb. With our monitors, you can easily detect and interdict radioactive materials. 

Connect with us here or at our email address: info@sensaweb.com.au. You can also call us at +61 415 409 467.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *