Earth could travel through the path of particles released by a solar storm this week, according to experts who advise of the possible impact of such an event.
According to WPXI, NASA satellites Sunday night revealed what is called a solar mass ejection, through which material from the sun is blasted with great force out into space. That eruption continued until Monday morning.
Computer projections indicate the storm is on track to impact or narrowly miss Earth Thursday morning.
If the relatively weak flare does cross paths with our planet, the effects could be noticeable but are not expected to be substantial.
Solar storms can create fluctuations in power grids, though any effects from Thursday’s event are expected to be minor. Experts predict the same for any interference with satellite operations due to emission.
The flare can also result in an aurora visible in the skies above areas within 30 and 60 degrees north or south of the equator. Within the U.S., these lights are most likely to appear over the west coast.
Some migratory animals are affected by solar storms, with the impact most evident in northern locations, including Canada.
Flares are common occurrences on the sun, with particulate matter routinely ejected at millions of miles per hour. Of the more than 150 storms that break out in a given year, however, only a small fraction collide with Earth.
While we could experience such a collision Thursday, the event has been classified as a G1, or minor storm. One week last September provided an extended example of the types of storms the sun is capable of producing.
As Space.com reported at the time, a series of seven powerful flares were recorded in a seven-day period beginning Sept. 4. Each storm originated from the sun’s Active Region 2673 as that area rotated out of sight from Earth.
One forceful storm from that series did pass close to North and South America, prompting an advisory from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via its Space Weather Prediction Center. Among the possible effects of that storm, the agency wrote, were high-frequency radio blackouts and low-frequency communication issues lasting for about an hour on the sunlit side of the planet.
“While a fast event, the CME was off the Sun-Earth line and is not expected to produce notable geoeffective impacts,” the SWPC wrote.
Three of the major flares recorded that week were classified as the most severe X storms, including one on Sept. 6 that registered as the strongest in 12 years.
Thursday’s event could be a more direct impact than any of those, but its relatively low force should keep any negative effects to a minimum, according to WHIO meteorologist Brett Collar.
“Don’t think that this storm will be historic by any means but certainly something to keep an eye on over coming days,” he said.
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