Christmas Solar Storm Threatens Earth’s Infrastructure
A solar storm will send extraordinary displays of colorful lights through the skies of northern countries, but may interfere with electrical equipment and power supplies.
Solar storms, also called geomagnetic storms, occur when plasma, the superheated matter that makes up the sun, is blown outward from our star to create a stream of supercharged particles, sometimes referred to as the solar wind. If the supercharged particles are pulled into Earth’s magnetic field, the atoms react, causing a solar storm. This can cause interference in devices powered with electricity, and also create awe-inspiring atmospheric displays known as aurorae.
Aurorae are most frequently seen at Earth’s magnetic poles, the Arctic and Antarctica, but a solar storm can greatly extend their reach. Space-weather forecasters say that Michigan, Maine, Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, Scotland, and Northern England all stand a good chance of seeing aurorae in the night sky over the next two days.