Universe Today – the SOHO mission (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) shows a sun-diving comet hitting the solar surface on October 1, 2011 and unexpectedly a huge explosion occurs shortly after. Are the two events related? Probably not, but solar scientists don’t know for sure. The region where the coronal mass ejection (CME) originated was on the opposite side of the Sun from the comet hit, so that is very great distance. Scientists say there is no known mechanism for comets to trigger a CME.
A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a massive burst of solar wind, other light isotope plasma, and magnetic fields rising above the solar corona or being released into space. Near solar maxima the Sun produces about 3 CMEs every day, whereas near solar minima there is about 1 CME every 5 days.
When the ejection is directed towards the Earth and reaches it as an interplanetary CME (ICME), the shock wave of the traveling mass of Solar Energetic Particles causes a geomagnetic storm that may disrupt the Earth’s magnetosphere, compressing it on the day side and extending the night-side magnetic tail. When the magnetosphere reconnects on the nightside, it releases power on the order of terawatt scale, which is directed back toward the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Converting the sun even temporarily into a ‘superflare’ star, (which may hugely vary its output by many percent, even many times) over very short intervals, not merely in heat but in powerful bursts of shorter wavelengths) could kill by many ways, notably ozone depletion—thermal stress and atmospheric changes and hundreds of others of possible scenarios—in many of them, human civilization would be annihilated. And in many more, humanity as a species would come to an end. The reader naturally asks: Why even contemplate such a horrible scenario? It is necessary because as thermonuclear and space technology spreads to even the least powerful nations in the centuries ahead, a dying dictator having thermonuclear missile weapons can produce (with some considerable mobilization of his military/industrial complex)— the artificial explosion of the Sun and take into his grave the whole of humanity. It might take tens of thousands of people to make and launch the hardware, but only a very few need know the final targeting data of what might be otherwise a weapon purely thought of (within the dictator’s defense industry) as being built for peaceful, deterrent use. Those concerned about Man’s future must know about this possibility and create some protective system—or ascertain on theoretical grounds that it is entirely impossible, which would be comforting.