A STREAM of energised particles from the Sun is expected to batter the planet today, as scientists warn the resulting solar storm could wreak havoc on GPS and radio communications.
Space weather forecasters have issued a solar storm alert for Monday and Tuesday following a burst of solar activity on the Sun. The star has released so-called coronal mass ejection or CME on Saturday, which is forecast to slam into the Earth’s magnetic field by about 5pm BST (12pm EST). The impact is forecast to trigger a “moderate” or G2 solar storm that has the potential to disrupt satellite technology.
According to the US Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the storm could induce power grid fluctuations, meddle with satellite operations and even interfere with radio signals.
An amber alert for auroras has also been issued in the UK, as forecasters predict the mesmerising Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) could be visible from parts of the country, weather permitting.
News of an imminent solar storm has now sparked fears on social media, however, experts have assured the impacts are going to be marginal.
Twitter user Simon Fox said: “OK, I don’t want to spook anyone in this time of artificially stoked #panic… but there is a possibility that a #SolarStorm will hit the UK today around 5pm.
“Be prepared, as my Scout leader used to say. (I was never a Scout).”
Earlier this summer scientists warned of the dangers and potential economic fallout associated with extreme space weather.
Forecasters rank solar storms based on the strength on a scale of G1 (Minor) to G5 (Extreme).
One of the most powerful solar storms to ever hit the planet was the 185 Carrington Event, which is reported to have set telegraph wires across Europe and North America sparkling.
A similar-sized storm was narrowly avoided in 2012 after a powerful CME swung by the planet.
CMEs are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun that interact with Earth’s magnetic field, inducing a number of space weather phenomena.
Following the close-brush with the CME nine years ago, it was estimated the resulting storm could have incurred a bill of up to £1.45trillion ($2trillion).
Solar physicist Tamitha Skov has now said today’s expected storm could see some disruptions to satellite technology, though she does not expect any issues with power grids.
Instead, she argued the storm is most. “Brinkwire Summary News”.