If you weren’t already aware, the Sun’s been seeing a whole lot of action of late. Like, it’s still being the Sun, but it’s also putting out incredible X-class solar flares, complete with coronal mass ejections. The latter doesn’t necessarily require the former, though, and that’s where we find ourselves at currently. Thanks to a couple of coronal mass ejections yesterday, there’s a good chance we’re going to get some geomagnetic storm activity over the next few days.
Coronal mass ejections can send “billions of tons of solar particles” out from the Sun into space, and sometimes these are directed at Earth. This doesn’t affect humans, thanks to our atmosphere, but it can cause issues with technical equipment. This is especially true for anything in the path of the CME out in space, like satellites.
The first CME, which erupted from the Sun at 5:24 AM EDT on May 17th, has already come and gone without much fanfare. A second CME that erupted around 10 AM EDT yesterday, however, is expected to hit the Earth tomorrow, May 19th, and bump us up into what the Space Weather Prediction Center calls a “Geomagnetic Storm category G2 (Moderate)” level of activity.
What does that mean for us down on the ground? Some “high-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms” and “long-duration storms may cause transformer damage,” but not a whole lot of possible interruptions for the majority of us. There is a good chance we’ll get an awful impressive aurora showing out of it, though.
- Solar flares like whoa up in here
- How NASA turns atmospheric data from the Sun into abstract art
- The Sun is no stranger to explosions