The sun is having hot flashes again. NASA reported that on June 7 a "dramatic solar flare" was flung out into space.1 Such flares release particles that can collide with earth's atmosphere and cause the phenomenon known as "northern lights." What protects life on earth from this very harmful stream of radiation?
A flare sometimes results when superheated material in the sun gets twisted up by rotating physical and magnetic forces. And if solar activity is particularly violent, the flare can get pinched off and thrown outward in a "coronal mass ejection," or CME.2 Photons, electrons and protons are ejected into space, often in the direction of earth.
NASA released clear images of the massive solar flare, and EarthSky reported, "The CME should deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of June 8 or June 9, 2011. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras—the beautiful northern lights—when the CME arrives."1 The lights are produced when solar material encounters earth's magnetic field.
Some of the radiation released by solar flares is at the X-ray end of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is not healthy. But the magnetic field protects life on earth from this serious danger. If the field were not there, living creatures could not survive.
And there are dozens of other specified parameters that enable life here. Earth, for example, is situated within the Goldilocks zone, a "just right" distance from the sun for water to remain in liquid form on the planet's surface. No other planet yet discovered has liquid water like that found on earth.3
Also, the moon is strikingly well-balanced for life, being just the right distance from earth, just the right size, mass, and in just the right orbital path to make life on earth possible, in part by stirring up the ocean's tides. In fact, its many precise specifications led two atheist scientists to title their 2005 book on the subject Who Built the Moon? They quoted famous author Isaac Asimov's statement that the moon's arrangement is "the most unlikely coincidence imaginable."4
If it looks as though it was built by a person, then perhaps the most straightforward explanation is that it was!
And the happy "coincidence" of the moon's size and placement happen to be just two factors in a long list of other properties that are required for life. The earth's distance from the sun, its fauna and flora,5, 6 and hundreds of other "coincidences"—including the size and strength of the magnetic field that serves to shield earth from coronal mass ejections—are too many and too specified to not be the products of purposeful design.
Those who live in extreme latitudes and who observe the aurora borealis in the north or aurora australis in the south are looking at striking reminders of the protection that earth's well-designed and very young magnetic field provides.7 And these and all of the planet's life-protecting systems are vivid reminders of the Creator's careful and brilliant engineering of a world uniquely suited to the needs of His living creations.
- Dramatic solar flare June 7, 2011. Aurora alert June 8 and 9. EarthSky. Posted on earthsky.org June 8, 2011, accessed June 8, 2011.
- Having a Solar Blast. NASA News. Posted on nasa.gov June 7, 2011, accessed June 8, 2011.
- Thomas, B. 2010. Doubts Raised about the 'Goldilocks' Planet. Acts & Facts. 39 (12): 17.
- Knight, C. and A. Butler. 2005. Who Built the Moon? London: Watkins Publishing, 248.
- Thomas, B. Does Earth Balance Carbon Dioxide Levels Automatically? ICR News. Posted on icr.org January 12, 2009, accessed June 9, 2011.
- Demick, D. 2000. The Unselfish Green Gene. Acts & Facts. 29 (7).
- Humphreys, D. R. 1993. The Earth's Magnetic Field Is Young. Acts & Facts. 22 (8).
Image credit: NASA/SDO
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on June 16, 2011.