A high-speed solar storm could hit Earth’s magnetic field today, disrupting communication infrastructure and electricity supply around the globe. The solar storm is approaching the planet at 1.6 million kms an hour, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The solar flare, which was first detected on July 3, is flowing from an equatorial hole in the atmosphere of the sun. It can reach maximum speeds of 500 km/second, spaceweather.com said. Although it is unlikely that full-fledged geomagnetic storms will take place, it can still cause lesser geomagnetic unrest that could spark auroras in high-latitude regions. The incoming flares are also expected to impact satellites in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. As a result, GPS navigation, signals to mobile phones and satellite TV will be directly impacted. The solar flares can also hit power grids.
According to the latest prediction provided by the Space Weather Prediction Centre of the United States, hour-long blackouts of high-frequency radio communication in a vast area is also quite likely. It has marked the incoming flares at X1 level, where ‘X’ denotes the classification and the numerical suffix denotes the flare’s strength.
Explosions on a massive scale on the sun’s surface release light, energy, and high-speed particles into space — solar flares. NASA classifies the biggest flares as “X-class flares”. The flares are classified according to their strength, with the smallest ones being classified as A-class. This is followed by B-class, C-class, M-class, and X-class.
While the Earth hasn’t witnessed a major solar storm since the mid-1800s, experts believe that the next “big one” could bring disaster to the modern world. Solar storms are among the most exhilarating celestial events. But when aimed at Earth, it could bring potentially disastrous consequences to a civilisation that is overly dependent on technology.