A solar storm could make the aurora borealis visible until Saturday in the south, in New York and in Chicago. A new sunspot triggered Wednesday a small solar flare that lasted more than an hour. This apartment posed some problems for radio operators in Europe and Africa, but its follow-up is likely to have an impact.
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The torch was soon followed by a more intense action of the sun in the form of a massive and moving cloud of charged particles known as coronal mass ejection (CME). The particles will collide with the Earth's magnetic field and may increase the intensity of what we call north and south lights or dawn.
Aurora pushes south
The aurora in both poles is caused by the particles of the sun that are constantly moving towards or planting. It is thanks to the extremes of the Earth that these particles are better perceived, but the CME has perhaps amplified them enough so that the phenomenon is also unusual in the cities of the south.
NASA has clearly explained the difference between a solar flare and a CME: "The torch looks like a flash of light, visible everywhere in the vicinity.The CME is like a cannonball, propelled in a single direction." CMEs travel at over a million kilometers at the hour and the hot plasma can take about three days to reach the Earth.
Storms may destroy communication systems
The differences between CME eruptions and solar flares are best seen through solar telescopes. Flares will appear as bright light and CMEs as huge blowers of gas swelling in space. Although this storm may bring the Aurora to the south, it is not a big storm by historical standards. One of the most intense solar storms ever recorded occurred in 1859, known as the Carrington event.
The storm was so powerful that it would have created a visible dawn almost everywhere in the world. The high number of particles also caused an explosion of telegraph wires. The repetition of such an intense solar event could wreak havoc on our electromagnetic-based communication system. High frequency radio waves and GPS can all be affected.
Sun looks up in slow motion
The sun has been inactive for most of 2018 and 2019 until now, the latter activity may well be the beginning of an extended period of renewed activity. However, we will have a warning. Like Earth's weather, scientists have the ability to predict weather trends and changes on Earth.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center uses simulations to help predict when the next WWC will arrive on Earth. Companies such as airlines and electricity companies can be notified in advance to help them prepare.