Observatory captures INTENSE solar storm
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Space weather physicist Dr Tamitha Skov made the prediction this morning that a solar storm will soon hit Earth.
Data from both NASA and the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that the astronomical phenomena will be impacting the planet over the next two weeks.
The NOAA’s three day outlook predicts that there is an 80 percent chance of a major storm on Monday, March 14.
Their current predictions include a 20 percent that the storm will impact the UK.
Aurora, a beautiful light show in the sky seen in high latitude areas, is expected to be seen further towards the equator than normal during the storm.
There are also expected to be issues for amateur radio and GPS systems, particularly near dawn and dusk.
A solar storm is predicted to hit Earth over the next two weeks (Image: Express.couk)
Dr Skov tweeted yesterday: “Direct Hit! NOAA & NASA prediction models show solarstorm to hit Earth between 12:00 and 21:00 UTC March 13.
“Impact should be strong! Expect aurora deep into mid-latitudes, amateur radio & GPS reception issues, especially near dawn/dusk, and on Earth’s nightside!”
She added this morning: “Solarstorm & Aurora 5-day Outlook: Busy week with a triple threat! A a big solarstorm storm is coming sandwiched between a glancing blow from a previous solarstorm and some fast solar wind.”
A relatively weak C-class solar flare blasted from the earth-facing side of the Sun on Thursday last week.
While Dr Tony Phillips of spaceweather.com stated that these flares are usually unremarkable, this one lasted for nearly 12 hours.
Aurora borealise visible in the sky behind the Callanish Stones in Scotland (Image: Getty)
Scott Sutherland wrote of the solar flare for theweathernetwork.com: “As this long-duration flare was blasting out energy into space, it was accompanied by the eruption of a cloud of charged solar particles, known as solar plasma cloud, a solar storm, or a coronal mass ejection (CME).”
He added: “Even a glancing blow by a CME is often enough to cause a geomagnetic storm. In this case, though, it appears as though Earth will be affected by the densest part of the cloud.
“That could spark an intense geomagnetic storm, with auroras visible across Canada and even into the northern parts of the United States.”
Geomagnetic storms have been known to cause massive damage to power grids and radio communications, and can cause electrical blackouts.
While Earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere allow adequate protection against radiation at ground level, astronauts can be subject to potentially lethal radiation poisoning.
Aurora borealis in Iceland (Image: Getty)
Most of the time, however, the most noticeable impacts of a geomagnetic storm is the vibrant displays of aurorae we call the Northern and Southern Lights.
These are usually only visible close to the North and South poles.
However, during a geomagnetic storm, they are more vibrant and more likely to be visible closer to the equator.
Solar storms occur when the Sun emits huge bursts of energy in the form of solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
Solar flares can be as powerful as billions of nuclear bombs.
These phenomena send a stream of electrical charges and magnetic fields toward the Earth at a speed of about three million miles per hour.