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  big, bigger, biggest flares!
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how explosive are solar flares?

 

Solar flares release an awful lot of energy that's for sure! In fact they give off so much energy that it's really difficult to appreciate just how powerful they are. These comparisons might help.

     

Nature provides some pretty big explosions on Earth too. Volcanoes release incredible amounts of energy.

 

Here is a volcanic eruption in Iceland, under the Vatnajokull ice cap. It occurred in 1996 and melted right through the ice cap - which was 800m thick.

 

This is the crater which was left after the explosion. Imagine the energy it took to melt all that ice.

Images Courtesy of Prof Bob White, Cambridge University

 


A volcano can continue erupting over a long time, perhaps a week, so in many cases the energy is released gradually. A typical solar flare lasts less than an hour and so not only is it much more energetic than anything else in the solar system, but it's also a more violent release of energy.

The energy released by a typical solar flare is about 10 million times more than that of a volcanic explosion like this.

 

 

The meteor crater in Arizona is 1.2 km in diameter and the energy needed to create it was about the equivalent of 3,500,000 tonnes of explosive.

   

 

   
 
 

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