The United States Department of Homeland Security has turned its attention towards the Sun this week in an attempt to determine the cause of some anomalous solar activity. President Bush has authorized a country-wide elevation of status to Yellow Alert until terrorist activity can be conclusively ruled out.
For the past two weeks, scientists have been reporting an unprecedented rise in the amount of solar activity coming from our Sun. This atypical activity began with a series of four flares on Oct. 22nd and ended 13 days later with the largest flare recorded since satellite observations began in 1976.
“It’s like the Earth is looking right down the barrel of a giant gun pointed at us by the sun… and it’s taken two big shots at us,” said John Kohl of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics last week. Because the Sun reached the peak of it’s 11-year activity cycle in late 2000, scientists are at a loss to explain this sudden rise in solar flares. “I have not seen anything like it in my entire career as a solar physicist. The probability of this happening is so low that it is a statistical anomaly,” Kohl added.
It’s precisely that low probability that has the government worried.
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