A solar storm might be about to hit Earth, as material flows out of a hole within the Sun.
The G1 class storm could cause radio communication problems, disrupt satellites and disrupt the migrations of animals, based on the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nonetheless, they’re relatively minor – with far more dramatic effects possible during geomagnetic storms.
The organisation said that such conditions were “likely” on Wednesday, 3 August, in consequence of a hole on our star.
Coronal holes appear as dark patches on images of the Sun after they are taken using ultraviolet and X-rays. They’re cooler and fewer dense parts of our star, which suggests that the solar wind is more easily in a position to escape into space.
That signifies that fast streams of solar wind may be thrown out of the Sun – and should be directed towards Earth.
Such a stream will glance our atmosphere, resulting in potential effects each within the space just above us in addition to down the Earth.
Coronal holes can form at any time, though they occur more throughout the time of solar minimum. We’re currently moving out of such a time and towards the solar maximum, where the Sun’s activity rises in intensity, which is predicted to reach sometime around 2025.
As that point approaches, scientists expect space weather to have a more regular and potentially more damaging impact on life on Earth. Scientists have repeatedly warned that human civilisation must be doing more to guard against damaging solar weather before more intense events arrive.
NOAA’s scale for solar weather begins at G1, as Wednesday’s storm is predicted to be, which is known as “minor”.
It runs all of the solution to G5 – an “extreme” geomagnetic storm – where widespread power system problems are expected, spacecrafts might be disorientated, and radio signals and satellite navigation might be temporarily knocked out.
Such extreme solar storms are nevertheless relatively rare. Extreme solar storms of that sort only occur around 4 days in each of the Sun’s 11 yr cycles.