A bright coronal mass ejection (CME) lumbered away from the Sun on Oct. 6th, captured in a movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
NOAA forecasters say the CME will miss Earth. However, if this same explosion had happened just one week ago when the blast site was facing Earth, we would now be declaring a geomagnetic storm warning. Maybe next time!
The Sun is constantly bubbling and erupting, releasing huge solar flares into space and when it does, it releases a barrage of solar particles into the cosmos.
NASA has just released a video of a massive solar flare, which if it had been released earlier, the bombardment of solar particles would have been on a collision course with Earth.
Thankfully this time, the solar flare will miss Earth, but had it been a few days earlier our planet would be right in the crosshairs.
Astronomy site Space Weather said: “If only this had happened one week ago.
“A beautifully bright coronal mass ejection (CME) lumbered away from the Sun on October 6.
“NOAA forecasters say the CME will miss Earth. However, if this same explosion had happened just one week ago when the blast site was facing Earth, we would now be declaring a geomagnetic storm warning.“
Major solar flares are dangerous
For the most part, solar flares are relatively harmless.
On a normal occasion, a solar flare is responsible for auroras seen here on Earth.
This is because the magnetosphere deflects the particles from the Sun, leading to the blue and green lights in the northern and southern poles.
However, on occasion, solar flares can be so powerful that they pose a threat to Earth’s technology.
As solar particles bombard the atmosphere, it can cause the magnetosphere to expand.
As such, it makes it much more difficult for satellite communications to penetrate the atmosphere, damaging technologies such as mobile phones, satellite television and GPS.
A huge solar flare can also cause a surge in the national grid, causing power outages.
Rarely does an event such as this happen, with the biggest technology-crippling solar storm coming in 1859, when a surge in electricity during what is now known as the Carrington Event, was so strong that telegraph systems went down across Europe.
There are also reports that some buildings set on fire as a result of the electrical surge.
However, another major solar storm could occur, which has led researchers to urge policy makers to invest in better infrastructure to observe our host star.
A recent study from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Russia, said: “A major solar storm could shut down electricity, television broadcasts, the internet, and radio communications, leading to significant cascading effects in many areas of life.
“According to some experts, the damage from such an extreme event could cost up to several trillion dollars and the restoration of infrastructure and the economy could take up to 10 years.
“Thus, understanding and forecasting the most hazardous extreme events is of prime importance for the protection of society and technology against the global hazards of space weather.“