On April 25, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spotted a burst of fire coming from the Sun. In the video, a blast of magnetic filament can be seen booming through the atmosphere of the Sun, followed by a few shock waves stemming from the epicentre. The blast was so powerful a “fountain of fire” burst from the surface and hundreds of thousands of kilometres into space.
Most solar storms come from sunspots, but in this instance, it was caused by a burst of magnetic filament bubbling beneath the surface.
The resulting coronal mass ejection (CME) could glance Earth on April 30.
However, experts do not foresee any issues for Earth as a result of the glancing blow.
Astronomy site Space Weather said: “You don’t need a sunspot to make a solar storm.
“The Sun proved it on April 25th when a spotless patch of the Sun’s southern hemisphere erupted.
“A dark filament of magnetism flew into space, lifting a semi-circular ‘fire fountain’ behind it.
“The erupting filament tore through the sun’s atmosphere, hurling a cloud of plasma into space. The resulting CME will miss Earth … mostly.
“NOAA forecasters say there’s a slight chance of a glancing blow on April 30.”
Often, solar particles released from CMEs can collide with Earth.
For the most part, the Earth’s magnetic field protects humans from the barrage of radiation which comes from sunspots, but solar storms can affect satellite-based technology.
Solar winds can heat the Earth’s outer atmosphere, causing it to expand.
This can affect satellites in orbit, potentially leading to a lack of GPS navigation, mobile phone signal and satellite TV such as Sky.
Additionally, a surge of particles can lead to high currents in the magnetosphere, which can lead to higher than normal electricity in power lines, resulting in electrical transformers and power stations blowouts and a loss of power.
Rarely does an event such as this happen, with the biggest technology-crippling solar storm coming in 1859, when a surge in electricity during what is now known as the Carrington Event, was so strong that telegraph systems went down across Europe.
There are also reports that some buildings set on fire as a result of the electrical surge.
More often than not, CMEs which hit Earth result in harmless auroras.
Auroras, which include northern lights – aurora borealis – and southern lights – aurora australis – are caused when solar particles hit the atmosphere.