A frenzy of solar storms has erupted from the sun this week and could result in blinding northern lights.
A total of 17 have been caught by Nasa observatories exploding from the star, and at least two of them are heading in that direction.
The stream of hot material known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) erupted from a highly active sunspot on March 28.
When they reach Earth, they unleash what is known as a geomagnetic storm — a largely harmless disruption of the magnetic field.
On his space weather alarm systemthe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned of potential impacts on Earth.
It said G3 (strong) and G2 (moderate) geomagnetic storms were expected on Thursday and Friday respectively.
G3 storms can not only trigger auroras, but also disrupt satellites and technology on Earth.
These include intermittent problems with GPS, problems with high-frequency radio signals, and power system failures, NOAA said.
It may sound ominous, but any problems caused by the storm will be minor and extremely unlikely to affect day-to-day life.
Data on the CMEs were collected from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
The US astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips stressed that the storms should result in Northern Lights being visible at unusually low latitudes.
writing on his website space-weather.comwhich tracks the Sun’s activity, he said Americans should see it after dark on Wednesday.
For Europeans, the hours before sunrise on March 31 are preferred.
“Dark skies are essential when chasing the aurora; go to the country,” wrote Dr. Phillips.
“Urban glare can overpower auroras even during a strong geomagnetic storm.”
Solar storms are caused by CMEs and solar flares, which are giant ejections of hot material called plasma from the Sun’s outer layer.
They can cause the appearance of colorful auroras by energizing particles in our planet’s atmosphere
Each solar storm is graded by severity on a scale of one to five, with G1 denoting “minor” and G5 denoting “extreme.”
At the high end of the scale, storms wreak havoc on our planet’s magnetic field, which can disrupt power grids and communications networks.
“Harmful radiation from a flare cannot penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and physically affect people on the ground,” NASA says.
“However – if they are intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communication signals propagate.”
Fortunately, this week’s geomagnetic storms are unlikely to significantly affect life or technology on Earth.
In the past, major solar flares wreaked havoc on our planet.
In 1989, a powerful solar flare shot down so many electrically charged particles that the Canadian province of Quebec was without electricity for nine hours.
Not only can they cause problems for our technology, but they can also harm astronauts working on the International Space Station, either by exposing them to radiation or by interfering with mission control communications.
The Earth’s magnetic field helps protect us from the more extreme effects of solar flares.
The sun is currently at the beginning of a new 11-year solar cycle, during which flares and flares usually become more intense and extreme.
These events are expected to peak around 2025, and there is hope that NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft will observe them all as it aims to fly within 26 million miles of the Sun.
- Read the latest phone and gadget news
- Stay up to date on Apple stories
- Get the latest on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram
The best tips and hacks for phones and gadgets
Looking for tips and hacks for your phone? Want to find these secret features in social media apps? We’ve got you covered…
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science Team? Email us at email@example.com
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8581479/barrage-solar-storms-strike-earth-auroras/ Barrage of solar storms to hit Earth TODAY, triggering auroras amid ‘technical chaos’ warnings