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The Sun constantly fires high-energy atomic particles at the Earth, known as the solar wind. During a "solar maximum" (when the Sun is at its most active, every 11 years -- the next one will be in 2012), an explosion with the energy of 100 billion Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs, known as a solar flare, can occur. In a solar flare, the superheated particles that comprise solar plasma (such as protons, electrons or helium nuclei) interact. If the conditions are right, when the charged particles interact, this results in X-ray emission. The X-rays travel to earth at the speed of light, and would be extremely harmful to humans were they not absorbed in the Earth's ionosphere. That absorption, however, creates a sudden surge in electron production. Due to this X-ray generation of electrons in the ionosphere, some forms of communication may become patchy (or be removed all together), and particularly in high-latitude regions, a vast electric current, known as an "electrojet", may form through the ionosphere. There is an increased cancer risk for astronauts in space who are hit by the particles of the solar wind, and by cosmic rays (particles from outside our solar system), and there may similarly be an increased risk of cancer, radiation sickness, or cell damage to humans located at the magnetic poles (e.g., people gathered to watch the auroras).

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โˆ™ 2009-06-11 04:41:49
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Q: How does solar winds affect human health?
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