Solar Flare vs. Solar Prominence vs. Coronal Mass Ejections

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Difference between Solar Flare, Solar Prominence and Coronal Mass Ejections

The sun is the Earth's source of life, giving the planet and all its inhabitants the energy and light it needs to survive. Placed perfectly at the center of the solar system, this life giving element is similar to the stars we see at night, which are mainly composed of gases and energy waves. These gases and waves are emitted to our planet, which gives the animals, plants and humans life. Like any planet the sun also has some weather changes wherein the deterioration of energy in the sun's surface produces some kind of storm that in turn, affects all planets in the solar system including earth. 

Scientific Descriptions

A solar prominence can be seen with proper scientific equipment. These are bright extensions which go as far as thousands and thousands of miles. Typically, a prominence can form in just one day and could last as far as a couple of months. A solar flare on the other hand is a prominence that creates a huge blast in the sun's surface which releases damaging amounts of energy in our planet. The solar flare is a big factor in the local space weather changes that we are experiencing. Finally, the coronal mass ejection - the worst of solar prominences are caused by extremely powerful solar flares. The ejections that are made during CMEs are plasmas which are made up of protons and electrons.

Impact on Earth

Scientific studies show that a solar prominence has least impact on earth and its inhabitants, for it is just a formation of something with a bright feature which could warn people that something big is coming up. A solar flare on the other hand, once it penetrates the earth, can interfere with radio communications.

Proton Storms

The effects of solar flares on human on the other hand are biochemical damage caused by high energy emissions called proton storms. These proton storms pose a threat to astronauts especially when traveling to space. As the worst part of a solar flare, the coronal mass ejection not only damages communications but can also have a great effect on satellites and put them off course. Aside from this, a strong coronal mass ejection could also have some effect on the earth's magnetosphere which could pose harm to everyday living by interrupting radio waves, cause power shortage and outages, and could also damage electrical properties and transmission lines. These things happen once the magnetosphere rejoins the magnetic tail, which results to powerful auroras in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.

Similarities and Differences

A solar prominence is the least harmful of these solar phenomena due to its composition and its capabilities to impose a threat.

  • Except for harmful UV rays that can penetrate the earth's defenses, and radio communication interference, solar flares pose a threat that can be taken precautions by preparation and awareness.
  • The most harmful of these three is the coronal mass ejection for it is in fact the strongest and worst of all the sun's phenomenon and it can inflict more damage on earth and its inhabitants than the others.
Which solar activity causes power outages on Earth most often?
  • Solar Flare
  • Solar Prominence
  • Coronal Mass Ejections

Discuss It: comments 5

A solar flare are dense clouds of material suspended above the surface of the Sun by loops of magnetic field. They project out from the Sun.

A prominence is a large explosion in Sun’s atmosphere releasing large amounts of energy. If a solar flare is exceptionally powerful, it can cause coronal mass ejections. Strong flares affect Earth’s radio waves and can cause satellites to malfunction. They can interact with our magnet field to create the Northern Lights. They can reach 100,000 miles away from the Sun.

  • Guest
  • meg wrote on December 2010

Our sun is not the center of our solar system!!

I can see your point, Meg, perhaps irregular orbits would seem to alter the center of the solar system. However, by definition a solar system is defined as planets revolving in an orbit around a solar body, namely Our Sun -since we really have no intimate familiarity with any other sun/star.

The sun deserves immense respect for gifting all living beings/forms on the Earth.

  • Guest
  • Bob wrote on July 2020

The list of inaccuracies and poorly worded statements are too long for me to list, but here are a few. The sun was not "placed" anywhere, as if it was a conscious choice. The sun rotates around the barycenter of the solar system, as does all the planets, asteroids, comets, and all other objects in the solar system. While the sun supplies energy for most of life on Earth, there is life that survives solely on geothermal energy deep in the ocean. The sun is not made up of gas, but plasma.

  • Guest
  • the truth wrote on October 2013

Imagine this, I just learned this in my Earth and Science honors class, the universe is expanding and all the galaxies are moving away from each other. Just like raisins and dough, put it in the oven and the raisins will start expanding outwards away from each other.

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