December 08, 2006
Russia's daily Online
By Anna Geroeva
The largest electromagnetic energy emission in the last 30 years has been recorded on the Sun, the Shernberg State Astronomy Institute said on Thursday. This energy outburst may damage equipment of space satellites, the scientists say. Doctors warn that the emission is dangerous for those afflicted with cardiovascular illnesses as well as for healthy people.
Scientists at the Shernberg Astronomy Institute of the Moscow State University have reported record-high emissions of electromagnetic energy on the Sun, the biggest since the 1970s. Over the past few days, the volume of sun radiation, or X9, has exceeded the normal level 1,000-fold. The scientists call this phenomenon an anomaly and say that the Sun is now in a stage when sunspots, sources of high electromagnetic radiation, are unusual. “Outbursts on the Sun like this have been extremely infrequent over the past 30 years,” said Igor Nikulin of the Shernberg Institute. “What is more, we have never had a chance to observe such emissions with the sun at its minimal activity.”
Scientists say that the first indications of increased solar activity were recorded on Monday when four sunspots appeared on the eastern part of the visible side of the solar disk. First, the scientists observed flashes on the Sun which were classified as moderate. However, the flashes were followed on Tuesday by massive outbursts of electromagnetic energy. “Such a large cloud of hot plasma has been released into space that even electronic equipment on space satellites may be damaged,” Vladimir Matveev at the Moscow Aviation Institute says.
The Sun’s electromagnetic anomaly has not reached the Earth yet. However, the Earth is expected to reach the sunspots quite soon. The encounter may happen this weekend, scientists at the Shternberg Astronomy Institute report. Igor Nikulin says: “If the area of the sunspots does not diminish in three or four days and the emissions continue, it may have a serious influence on the magnetic field of the Earth.” A cloud of hot plasma from the sunspots will make the Earth’s magnetic field vibrate and will cause a powerful magnetic storm.”
Doctors recommend their patients to keep to a special regime during the magnetic storm. People with cardiovascular illness are believed to be at a particular risk. However, quite healthy people should be on their guard as well. “One should not go overboard with drinking, going to the sauna or doing extra work,” Vladimir Ryabinin, chief physician at the Sklifosovskiy Ambulance Institute, advises. Other doctors suggest that people pay close attention to their health conditions during the days of the magnetic storm and go to consult their doctors in case of any problem.