KEY POINTS

  • Solar winds destroyed the atmosphere of Mars
  • The magnetosphere protects Earth from solar winds
  • Radiation from solar winds can increase cancer rates among humans

Experts discussed how solar winds emitted by the Sun can be dangerous. Aside from destroying the atmospheres of planets, these solar emissions can also kill humans.

Solar winds, which are highly charged particles ejected from holes in the Sun’s atmosphere, hit Earth regularly. Fortunately, the solar emissions that reach Earth are only minor and are not powerful enough to affect the planet’s magnetic field or cause electrical disruptions.

Extreme cases of solar winds, on the other hand, can be devastating for a planet. One example that showcases the destructive capabilities of solar winds is Mars. As indicated in scientific reports, Mars previously had ideal conditions that could have supported life.

However, powerful solar winds from the Sun stripped the planet’s atmosphere and turned it into a hostile world. According to planetary scientist Arun Prasaad Gunasekaran, since Mars did not have a magnetic field to protect it from solar winds, its atmosphere became vulnerable to the effects of the solar emissions.

“For Mars, the magnetosphere is extremely weak (maybe gone) because of the absence of the internal dynamo,” he stated in a post on Quora. “So, the solar winds can breach the magnetosphere and can rip the atmosphere due to their kinetic energy and momentum.”

Unlike Mars, Earth has a magnetosphere, which means its atmosphere is relatively safe from being stripped away by solar winds. However, without the magnetosphere, the entire planet and its inhabitants will be directly exposed to the harmful effects of solar winds, such as radiation.

According to electrical engineer Harry Kier, the intense ultraviolet radiation from solar winds could cause accelerated cancer rate among humans, which could be extremely fatal.

Aside from an increased death rate caused by cancer, intense solar winds could also knock out communication and electrical grids, which could have a huge impact on countries.

“Without the Earth’s magnetic field to deflect it, this radiation would cause an increased cancer rate in we humans,” Kier explained in a statement. “Extreme solar flares can disrupt electric and communication grids. Radiation from the sun increases the risk of cancer in space travelers.”

solar-flare Solar material that reaches Earth, such as after a solar flare like this one, can disturb our planet’s magnetic fields. Photo: NASA