The Sun and Solar Flares
Inside the Sun’s core highly charged particles: photons and electrons. The Sun mass-produces these particles and sometimes they simply just build up to a point (combustion) where they have to be released.
This is through solar flares, solar prominence’s and CME’s.
A flare is a massive explosion of energy in the form of x-rays. This energy is filled with these high excited charged particles, during the explosion they are shot out in ALL directions moving at the speed of light.
A prominence (also known as a filament) looks more like an arc where these particles are shot out from the Sun’s surface, passes through the corona but are held back due to the electromagnetic field of the Sun. Generally a prominence will eventually erupt, spewing out large amounts of matter into space.
Lastly, a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) is the actual eruption of matter from the corona of the Sun that gets shot out into space, moving in ONE designated direction. This matter is PLASMA and it travels over a million miles/hour, if directed towards Earth, it can take up to 3 days to reach us.
Observing these eruptions through a solar telescope is the coolest! A solar flare appears as a flash of white light, whereas a CME appears as a ball or fan of gas that swells and bursts into space.
Keeping a close eye on these explosions is quite important for us earthlings, seeing that this high level of heat and charged energy particles can interfere not only with our daily weather change, but with power companies and airlines too.
So next time there’s a heat wave, look up! It might be a friendly reminder from the hot star that we orbit!
Sources: nasa.gov, enchantedlearning.com, nationalgeographic.com