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GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – The one thing that sustains all life on earth is the very same thing that can bring all of our modern advancements and comforts to a screeching halt.
Millions of miles away, the sun literally is exploding with energy as it beams heat and light in all directions at all times. Sometimes, during especially active periods, it emits CMEs — short for coronal mass ejections.
Dr. Todd Ellis with Western Michigan University explains that these CMEs are explosions from the sun “of high energy particles” that can be compared (on a much larger scale) to similar effects of a thermonuclear weapon.
Often, when a CME is released, the impacts are fairly innocuous and often beautiful — resulting in the formation of aurora or what we refer to as Northern Lights.
But in extreme cases, the effects can be much greater.
Ellis explains: “They can completely disrupt radio communications … build up charges on … metals and create electric discharges like sparks and arching.
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