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Can Our Sun Produce a Killer Flare?
The short answer to this is "no".
The longer answer is a little more involved. Whilst a solar flare from out Sun, aimed directly at us, could cause secondary problems such as satellite damage and injury to unprotected astronauts and blackouts, the flare itself is not powerful enough to destroy Earth, certainly not in 2012. I dare say, in the far future when the Sun begins to run out of fuel and swell into a red giant, it might be a bad era for life on Earth, but we have a few billion years to wait for that to happen. There could even be the possibility of several X-class flares being launched and by pure bad luck we may get hit by a series of CMEs and X-ray bursts, but none will be powerful to overcome our magnetosphere, ionosphere and thick atmosphere below.
Originally posted by Sliick
it was my understanding that a powerful flare could hit, it just wouldn't cause the earth to "cook"
The panel predicts the upcoming Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with 90 sunspots per day, averaged over a month. If the prediction proves true, Solar Cycle 24 will be the weakest cycle since number 16, which peaked at 78 daily sunspots in 1928, and ninth weakest since the 1750s, when numbered cycles began.
Society back then did not notice the storm the way it would today. The telegraph was 15 years old. There were no satellite TV feeds, no automated teller machines relying on orbiting relay stations, and no power grids
The blob came at exceptionally high speeds. It took only 17 hours and 40 minutes to go from the Sun to Earth." Solar storms typically take two to four days to traverse the 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).
Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite have spotted a stellar flare on a nearby star so powerful that, had it been from our sun, it would have triggered a mass extinction on Earth. The flare was perhaps the most energetic magnetic stellar explosion ever detected.
The flare was seen in December 2005 on a star slightly less massive than the sun, in a two-star system called II Pegasi in the constellation Pegasus. It was about a hundred million times more energetic than the sun's typical solar flare, releasing energy equivalent to about 50 million trillion atomic bombs.
Fortunately, our sun is now a stable star that doesn't produce such powerful flares. And II Pegasi is at a safe distance of about 135 light-years from Earth.