Today’s space-weather report tells of a different kind of sunny sky: Two flares, including the second biggest of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, hit earth early this morning and could cause the biggest solar storm in five years, NASA says.
Now, what the hell does this mean, exactly?
Every so often, a chunk of charged particles — called a coronal mass ejection — spirals earthward, which can cause problems with electronic devices.
So, if your GPS, computer, or cell phone is in a funk, it might very well be the Sun’s fault.
Today’s events began Wednesday night, when a flare erupted at 7 p.m. and another followed around 8:14 p.m. They then zoomed toward Earth at 1,300 and 1,100 miles per second, reaching our fair planet around 5:45 a.m.
The National Weather Service’s space division says the effects will continue throughout the day and could intensity.
CNET has a really great rundown of the practicalities of this storm, which comes on the heels of another that took place two months ago.
The radiation emitted during this phenomenon doesn’t pose physical dangers to most, except astronauts and people flying at high altitudes, according to CNET. Because radiation tends to gather at the Earth’s poles, flights will be rerouted to avoid these areas.
Luckily, today’s event is not that nasty: “The more severe geomagnetic storms can spike the voltage in transmission lines which could damage grid transformers and potentially knock power out. A massive power outage in the province of Quebec in 1989 was blamed on a solar storm,” CNET reports.
We’ll keep you posted with any updates.