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©2003 by Richard Nolle

WOW!SEP 15, 2003 - Solar Flares on Steroids is one of the Science @NASA features: popular science with an emphasis on space. This time around, the emphasis is on magnetars, those peculiar super-powered stars that periodically blast huge stellar flares off into space - like the one that hit Earth on August 27, 1998 courtesy of the magnetar called SGR 1900+14. (A few years ago, I put together some ideas on an Astrology of Magnetars including SGR 1900+14, if you're interested.) NASA is engaged in hunting for these rare and still rather mysterious stars, which are capable of outbursts as much as a million million times strongter than solar flares. From about 45,000 light years away, for example, SGR 1900+14 has more than once bathed the Earth in X-Ray and gamma ray radiation strong enough to blackout Ham radio transmission - and maybe scramble some of our mutagenic little chromosomes in the process. A sobering thought, for anyone silly enough to insist that the cosmos has no effect on us.

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