NASA says big Solar Storm headed towards Earth, can Damage GPS, phone signals, electricity
NASA raises Solar Storm blackouts alert, says solar flare just erupted on Sun that are heading for Earth; may affect GPS, phones, electricity
NASA has revealed that a solar storm is headed towards Earth that can cause possible power and communication outage, including affecting GPS, phones, and electricity supply. NASA has reported that this stems from a new solar flare eruption observed on the Sun. This solar flare was first emitted on January 20, 2022 and reached its peak at 6:01 AM IST on the same day, says NASA. The solar flare was classified by the space agency as M 5.5 or mid-level solar flare. Concerns are now brewing around a possible solar storm approaching Earth which may cause blackouts and communication failures. Spaceweather.com has issued a warning regarding this.
“Geomagnetic unrest is possible on Jan. 22-23-24 as a series of CMEs delivers glancing blows to Earth's magnetic field,” the post read. Here CMEs refer to coronal mass ejections which is a significant release of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun. These two CMEs were caused by the sunspot named AR2929. The CME cause what is then referred to as solar storms that impact Earth's protective magnetic field. If the solar storm is powerful enough to breach the magnetic field, it can cause significant damage to electrical and electronic infrastructure on Earth and the satellites above. This includes GPS, mobile phones, electricity supply and much more. NASA said, "Solar flares are powerful bursts of energy. Flares and solar eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts."
What exactly is a solar flare and what can it do
In simple words, Solar flares are a very strong eruption of electromagnetic radiation and energy from the Sun to outer space. These radiation have X-rays, radio waves and gamma rays in them. They usually take place in the active region of the Sun, or places where the Sun's magnetic field is disturbed. These active regions are not always present however. The sun goes into its solar cycles which is considered to be an 11-year cycle. At present, we are in the 25th solar cycle that began in December 2019. It is observed that during the initial years of the solar cycle, solar flares are more common. These solar flares often cause solar storms which, if severe enough, can cause complete blackouts on earth, damage satellites and also cause power outages.
NASA has classified solar flares into 5 categories, based on how severe they are. M1 is minor, M2 is moderate, X1 is strong, X10 is severe and X20 is extreme. It is said that apart from M1, all of them can potentially cause harm to Earth's power and communication system.
The last known major solar storm event that affected Earth took place in 2017 when an X12.9 class solar flare hit Earth and caused brief power and communication blackout as well as damaged satellites.
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