For those of us who aren’t scientists, the Sun gave out two enormous farts, err, flares yesterday. One of these Solar Flares emitted was the biggest in a decade.
Harmful radiation from Solar Flares cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. Now, the burst of charged particles released by the Sun earlier is rushing towards Earth and may cause interference to communications (especially GPS) as well as increase chances of seeing the Northern Lights.
While the initial radiation from the solar flares created radio disturbances experienced around the world on Wednesday, giant clouds of charged particles expelled by the sun – known as a coronal mass ejection – could result in blackouts, possibly within the next 24 hours.
— NASA (@NASA) September 6, 2017
As the Sun begins the most active stage of its 11-year cycle, the X-class flares – the most intense classification of coronal ejection – was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. If directed at Earth, solar flares may create radiation storms that affect satellites and communications systems. Those around higher latitudes, however, will get a chance to see the aurora borealis or its southern counterpart the aurora australis in greater clarity.
At their largest, solar flares can release energy equivalent to a billion hydrogen bombs.