A powerful solar storm from the Sun is heading towards planet Earth and scientists expect it to hit us this afternoon, 8th March 2012.
The Sun erupted on Tuesday 6th March and unleashed a colossal cloud of charged partials which is predicted to affect power grids, global positioning systems (GPS), oil pipelines and aircrafts are being advised to adjust their flight paths if they’re crossing the Polar Regions, as that is where the radiation from the storm will be at its most intense. The energetic protons expelled into space during a solar flare are unlikely to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere as it’s protected by its own magnetic field, therefore there will be no damage to solar panels on buildings but the particles can damage or degrade satellite components in orbit which may cause communication to become problematic when using a mobile phone. The solar flare has already caused short high frequency radio blackouts but they have now passed.
The solar flare is part of the Suns 11 year cycle and astrologists have explained that the flare is due to the Sun ‘waking up’ from being in a state of hibernation over the past few years. The peak of the Sun’s activity is expected next year where more solar disturbances may occur as the third and final stage of three phases likely to affect Earth.
In America, the storm is anticipated to cause vivid auroras by tonight however, the full moon could make them difficult to distinguish and unfortunately for the United Kingdom, the forecast is for cloud.
The flare was recorded as a X5.4, making it the second biggest flare after an X6.9 which happened on the 9th August 2011 and Alex Young, a Nasa solar physicist said, ‘It could give us a bit of a jolt.’ The current stormy space weather is abnormal in recent history according to an astrophysicist at the University of New Hampshire, as the last solar storm was in 1989 which left 6 million people without electricity in Canada when it knocked the power grid off in Quebec.
Will the solar flare effect as much as the scientists envisage? We will have to wait and find out!
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