A huge solar storm is heading for Earth, and it’s likely to hit today!
The storm could knockout satellites, disrupt power supplies and spark stunning displays of the Northern Lights.
It was created last week by an enormous explosion in the sun’s atmosphere known as a solar flare, and charged particles from that flare are now on their way to our planet.
The arrival of the solar storm coincides with the formation of ‘equinox cracks’ in Earth’s magnetic field, which some scientists believe form around the equinoxes on March 20 and September 23 each year.
These cracks weaken our planet’s natural protection against charged particles and could leave commercial flights and GPS systems exposed to the incoming storm.
The cracks also mean stargazers are more likely to catch glimpses of the Northern lights this week.
This may include parts of Scotland and northern England, as well as the ‘northern tier’ of the US including parts of Michigan and Maine.
A huge solar storm is heading for Earth, and it’s likely to hit tomorrow. It may trigger the Northern Lights in parts of Scotland and northern England. This animation shows the aurora forecast for Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 March (time in GMT is shown top right)
The charged, magnetic particles from the solar storm can interfere with machinery in Earth’s orbit as well as at the planet’s surface, such as GPS systems and radio signals.
They can also threaten airlines by disturbing Earth’s magnetic field.
Very large flares can even create currents within electricity grids and knock out energy supplies.
‘A minor geomagnetic storm watch is now in effect for the 14 and 15 March, 2018. Aurora may be visible at high latitudes,’ the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wrote in a statement.
The particles, which came from the sun after solar flares took place on March 6 and 7, could cause ‘weak power grid fluctuations’ and a ‘minor impact on satellite operations,’ according to the NOAA.
Nasa said the first of the two flares – classified in the potent X class and facing directly at the Earth – was the biggest this year.
It was one of the largest of this cycle known as the solar minimum, which began in early 2007.