The Sun has catapulted out fast solar winds from the outermost part of its atmosphere. These have raised the threat of solar storms striking earth. The biggest storms come as a result of a coronal mass ejection (CME), a huge bubble of plasma shot out from the Sun. These contain billions of tons of fast-moving solar particles as well as the magnetic field that binds them.
Spaceweather.com has warned that two CMEs are poised to deliver “glancing blows to Earth’s magnetic field’ on January 22, 23 and 24.
And Dr Tamitha Skov, a space weather physicist, warned that fast solar winds bumped up warnings of a G2 level solar storm heading towards the Earth’s “strike zone”.
She said: “We are in the middle of that fast solar wind from that coronal hole that’s rotatedin towards the Earth’s strike zone.”
And those are not the only CMEs on their way. A third CME is also on its way, posing the threat of a G1 level storm.
Dr Skov said there is a solar storm that “could be a glancing blow around the 20th”.
She added: “We are going to be continuing to feel the effects of this over the couple of days.”
In fact, Spaceweather.com’s “big flare update” said that powerful solar flare erupted out the sun today.
Dr Skov warned that at higher latitudes, there is up to a 50 percent chance of a “major storm”.
She added that “big flares and radio blackouts are a slight risk now”.
US Space Weather Center (SWPC) ranks solar storms on a scale of “G1 Minor”, the least intense, all the way up to “G5 Extreme”.
But even the weakest of storms threaten “power-grid fluctuations” and have a “minor impact on satellite operations”.
At the stronger end of the scale, this is where it starts to get more dangerous.
When CMEs collide with Earth’s magnetosphere, “all of that extra radiation can damage the satellites we use for communications and navigation, it can disrupt power grids that provide our electricity”.