A massive solar flare ‘snowplowed’ past earth earlier last week, sparking a geomagnetic storm powerful enough to potentially impact power grids. Solar flares, known as coronal mass ejections (CME), are enormous expulsions of plasma from the sun’s outer layer.
The Sun is nearing the solar maxima, which marks the period of the greatest solar activity during its 11-year solar cycle. And it’s undergoing an especially temperamental phase of late, showing its displeasure by firing coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and whatnot. Just last week, a CME narrowly missed Earth and ignited a pair of geomagnetic storms with auroras.
Presently, the Sun’s atmosphere sports a hole that has been likened to the Cyclops from the X-Men universe, who could shoot powerful beams of energy with his eyes. And it is from this hole that gaseous material is escaping the solar atmosphere, spaceweather.com reported.
Experts at the site explained that this was enough to ‘spark a G1-class geomagnetic storm with auroras across many northern-tier US states’.According to the NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, a G1-class geomagnetic storm won’t impact human health, but it can cause minor disruption to power grids and satellite operations.
It’s also powerful enough to spark aurora borealis, aka northern lights, in the northern hemisphere. In a new update on the interstellar activity, SpaceWeather.com added: “NOAA forecasters say there is a chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storm on July 6th when a stream of solar wind is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field.
“The gaseous material is flowing from a cyclops-like hole in the sun’s atmosphere.”Just to put your mind at rest, G-1 is the weakest of geomagnetic storms. And while the most extreme G-5 events are extremely rare, if one were to occur, it would create chaos in our daily lives.
With a G1 classification, which denotes solar storms of the weakest variety, the incoming magnetic flux is not likely to damage the satellites or GPS systems. There is a possibility of radio disruption for shortwave frequencies and amateur radio. NOAA classifies solar storms into 5 categories, from G1 to G5. A G5 solar storm like a Carrington event can not only damage satellites, and affect the internet and mobile network but it can also mess up electronic gadgets and cause power grid failures. Even worse, it can cause forest fires due to its highly charged radiation.
Meanwhile, as solar storms get increasingly frequent, space weather scientists are scrambling to find ways to strengthen the Earth’s defenses against the volatile solar weather, as a powerful flare could wreak havoc on our planet.