Solar storm heading to Earth can affect your mobile phone

The solar storm heading towards Earth can knock out your mobile phone. Here is what needs to happen first.
| Updated on Jul 17 2021, 12:31 PM IST
A solar storm hitting mobile phone communications is possible only under certain conditions.
A solar storm hitting mobile phone communications is possible only under certain conditions. (Pixabay)

The Sun has belched out a solar flare and the storm thereby created is hurtling down towards the Earth at an awesome speed. Naturally, the attention of the entire world is riveted on this solar phenomenon. The Sun is very far, but the solar storm is not expected to diminish when it reaches Earth. In any case, it is travelling at a humongous speed. says a solar flare can travel at a speed of up to 500 km/sec. The question that is on the mind is, will it have destructive power? Well, yes, it can knock out telecom and power infrastructure. In a tweet, Planetary Society said, "The Sun’s power should never be underestimated. In March 1989, the entire Canadian province of Quebec suffered a 12-hour electrical power blackout caused by a solar storm." However, as far as individual gadgets like mobile phones are concerned, the question is whether the solar storm can make them stop working?

The answer to that question is, yes, that can happen to mobile phones. However, greater threat is posed to GPS devices as the signal faces a larger risk of being affected because solar flare radiation can disrupt communications with GPS satellites. Mobile phones too can be affected, but the chances of that happening are rare. 

When can a solar storm affect your mobile phone? in an answer to a question from a reader said, "It is true that solar flares can disrupt communications, but they probably won’t affect your cell phone. Solar flares produce a lot of radiation, including X-ray and UV radiation that can potentially cut off radio signals. However, a cell phone tower would have to be in the same direction (from you) as the Sun in order for your call to be affected."

Also read: Looking for a smartphone? Check Mobile Finder here.

Big solar storms are not that frequent or we can say that Earth has been lucky not to have been in the path of large ones for some time now. However, in 1859 the largest solar storm occurred. described it this way, "That night (Sept 1), telegraph communications around the world began to fail; there were reports of sparks showering from telegraph machines, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze. All over the planet, colorful auroras illuminated the nighttime skies, glowing so brightly that birds began to chirp."

Astrophysicist Scott McIntosh from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Business Insider that the Earth's upper atmosphere is "wickedly" impacted by the sun's magnetic spewing. "It's real even if you don't feel it every day," he said. "You might not, your banking institution might, your power grid company almost certainly does, and your telephone company absolutely does."

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First Published Date: 14 Jul, 02:49 PM IST
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