A solar storm has originated from the Sun’s atmosphere and is finding its way towards earth at a speed of 1.6 million kilometres per hour. It may hit earth today resulting in a power failure across the world. Though it is one of its kind phenomena, there is nothing to panic about.
Interruption in satellite signals and power surges may be experienced depending on which part of the earth it hits, according to Spaceweather.com.
What is a solar storm?
A solar storm or a geomagnetic storm is a hole that has opened up in the Sun's atmosphere spewing a stream of solar wind in the Earth's direction.
As per NASA, these solar winds are known to blow at a speed of one million miles per hour or 1.6 million kilometres towards the earth. As it comes hurtling towards the earth, the earth's surface witnesses a rapid drop in the magnetic field strength that lasts for about 6 to 12 hours. For the earth to regain its magnetic field strength, it could take several days.
Disruption in Signals
As this solar storm approaches earth, satellite signals could get affected or interrupted. Radio signals, communication networks and weather could be directly affected according to Spaceweather.com. It could also have a significant impact on a region of space dominated by the earth’s magnetic field.
Despite these warnings, there is not much to worry about as the earth’s magnetic field acts as a protective shield. In extremely rare cases, it has been found to cause interference in GPS navigation, mobile phone signals and satellite TV with a surge in electricity in the power lines. There have been instances of transmission lines getting affected.
NASA pegs it at X 1.5 class flare
NASA has classified this solar storm as an X1.5-class flare. X denotes the most intense flares and the numbers are an indication of its strength. The higher the numbers, the more intense is the flare. An X2 would signal double the intensity of the flare and X3, triple the intensity and so on.
Will it be visible?
The Space Weather Prediction Centre of the United States has said the impact of the solar flare will be centred on sub-solar points on the sunlit side of Earth with people living in the North or South Pole able to view the beautiful celestial lighting (auroras) at night.
In March of 1989, a solar storm disrupted Hydro-Québec's electricity transmission system in Canada resulting in a twelve-hour blackout. In space, some satellites tumbled out of control for several hours. NASA recorded over 250 anomalies and the Space Shuttle Discovery had its own issues too.
First Published: IST