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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024

Ask Mr. Scientist: Dangerous solar flares?

Dear Mr. Scientist,

Are we in any sort of danger with this whole solar flare thing that’s going on? What kind of damage can a solar flare even do?

—Joe R.

There are several stages to a solar storm, but the last stage, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), is the one that can cause big problems. A CME sends a cloud of charged particles towards Earth that can affect satellites used for everything from communication to navigation. A CME can also interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and produce powerful electromagnetic fluctuations that would damage large parts of the electrical grid, causing wide-spread power outages. This is all a worst-case scenario, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there’s nothing to worry about.

Ask Mr. Scientist is written by Michael Leitch. If you have a burning science question you would like him to answer, e-mail it to

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