1. Dr. Art Poland, an astrophysicist, says both solar flares and coronal mass ejections are the result of magnetic activity on the sun. What is the basic difference between the two phenomena?

    • Answer

      Solar flares develop much more rapidly, with much more energy, than coronal mass ejections.

  2. Solar flares have very high temperatures. They release energy in what high-frequency parts of the electromagnetic spectrum?

    • Answer

      Solar flares can produce x-rays and even gamma rays.

  3. How quickly do the particles in a coronal mass ejection travel?

    • Answer

      Very! The material in a coronal mass ejection travels at about 200-1000 kilometers per second (124-621 miles per second).

  4. What soar phenomenon do you think produces shorter wavelengths?

    • Answer

      Solar flares usually produce shorter wavelengths, sometimes including gamma rays. High-frequency, short-wavelength gamma rays are the most energetic type of radiation in the universe.

  5. It takes about two days for the cloud of material produced by a coronal mass ejection to reach and interact with Earth's magnetosphere. What phenomena are associated with this interaction?

    • Answer

      The Northern and Southern Lights (aurora borealis and aurora australis) are often associated with coronal mass ejections. Coronal mass ejections may also disrupt radio and satellite signals, and even interfere with electric power grids on Earth.

astrophysicist
Noun

person who studies the relationship between matter, energy, motion, and force outside the Earth's atmosphere.

coronal mass ejection
Noun

huge burst of solar wind and other charged particles.

gamma radiation
Noun

very high-frequency electromagnetic radiation.

Noun

force by which objects attract or repel one another.

magnetosphere
Noun

magnetic field surrounding a planet.

solar flare
Noun

explosion in the sun's atmosphere, which releases a burst of energy and charged particles into the solar system.

Noun

star at the center of our solar system.

X-ray
Noun

radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum with a very short wavelength and very high energy.