Author Topic: Power cuts threat as sun storm hits earth  (Read 601 times)

Offline Johnnie F.

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Power cuts threat as sun storm hits earth
« on: January 24, 2012, 07:55:15 PM »
Power cuts threat as sun storm hits earth

A huge mass of electrically-charged particles thrown out by a gigantic eruption on the Sun is due to strike the Earth tonight.

Scientists expect it to trigger one of the most violent geomagnetic storms ever recorded.

The result could be widespread power surges and even blackouts, disrupted TV and mobile phone signals, and broken down communication satellites.

At the same time the Northern Lights, normally confined to polar latitudes, may produce dazzling displays in the skies above southern Britain.

At least one satellite has already been knocked out of action by the storm. Japan's space agency said its Kodama communications satellite had been temporarily shut down after malfunctioning.

The solar flare that caused the eruption burst out of a sunspot at 10.54am yesterday.

Experts said it was the strongest flare seen in the past 30 years. The explosion caused a coronal mass ejection (CME) which is now speeding towards Earth.

Disruption

Last week another CME only hit the Earth a glancing blow, yet was able to disrupt airline communications.

The solar flare was classified as an X18-category explosion, meaning it can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.

Although the charged particles present no direct danger to people on the ground, they could have a devastating effect on electrical equipment.

Geomagnetic storms are classified on a scale of one to five. Initial indications are that the looming storm could reach the highest G5 level and last for 24 hours.

Northern Lights

The most obvious manifestation of the storm is likely to be glorious auroras lighting up the night sky.

Usually the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is only visible in Britain from northern Scotland. The Earth's magnetic field channels the solar particles that cause auroras towards the poles.

But experts say that over the next two days the Northern Lights may be seen at latitudes as low as Florida and Texas - and even south enough to cover the whole of Europe.

Daily Mail

Offline thaiga

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Re: Power cuts threat as sun storm hits earth
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2012, 02:24:12 PM »
Solar storms prompt airlines to reroute flights
US carrier Delta Air Lines said it had adjusted flight routes for transpolar journeys between Asia and the United States to avoid problems caused by the radiation storm, a spokesman said.

Nasa confirmed the coronal mass ejection (CME) began colliding with Earth’s magnetic field around 10:00 AM (1500 GMT) Tuesday, adding that the storm was now being considered the largest since October 2003.

Radiation storms are not harmful to humans, on Earth at least, according to the US space agency. They can, however, affect satellite operations and short wave radio.

The storm’s radiation, likely to continue bombarding Earth’s atmosphere through Wednesday, and its possible disruption to satellite communications in the polar regions prompted the flight rerouting, airline officials said.

Atlanta-based Delta, the world’s second largest airline, said “a handful” of routes had their journey adjusted “based on potential impact” of the solar storm on communications equipment, spokesman Anthony Black told AFP.

Routes from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul took a more southerly route after the solar flare erupted on Sunday.

The airline said it would continue to monitor solar activity before return flights to their normal routes.

Due to the unusual intensity of the photons raining on Earth, the spectacular aurora borealis — the stunning “Northern Lights” display — which is often seen closer to the Arctic pole at this time of year, has been seen as far south as Scotland and northern England, and at lower latitudes in the United States.

The event started late Sunday with a moderate-sized solar flare that erupted right near the center of the Sun, said Doug Biesecker, a physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Center.

“The flare itself was nothing spectacular, but it sent off a very fast coronal mass ejection traveling four million miles per hour (6.4 million kilometers per hour),” he told AFP.

Space weather watchers said the best aurora sightings are normally around midnight local time.

Rob Stammes, who runs the Lofoten Polar Light Centre in Lofoten, Norway said the CME’s arrival Tuesday had produced a surge in ground currents outside his laboratory.

“This could be a happy day for many aurora watchers,” he told aurora tracker website spaceweather.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

 



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