Intense Solar Storm Could Disrupt Power, Communications; Auroras Expected

Sunday, August 7, 2011
By Paul Martin

By IB Times Staff Reporte
IBTimes.com
August 7, 2011

The U.S. government has put on alert users of satellite, telecommunications and electric equipment as solar eruptions that happened over the past couple of days are set to trigger intense magnetic storms.

A solar storm happens when a burst of charged particles are thrown out from Sun’s Corona barrel into Earth’s atmosphere. The phenomenon creates fascinating displays of light, known as auroras, but the ejection of particles also induces currents that surge through telegraph cables, electrical systems and communication equipment.

When this magnetic storms, which took origins 93 million miles away, come to Earth, electrical and communications systems can suffer damage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) space weather prediction center says magnetic storms triggered by massive flares in the sun could cause disruptions to GPS apps on mobile phones and in cars, power grids that serve critical users such as hospitals and airports, airline communications and military and environmental satellites.

One of the most massive solar flares ever happened in 1859, when a silent surge of power from a major geomagnetic storm fueled by a solar eruption hit telegraph offices around the world. Some telegraph operators got electric shocks and papers caught fire.

The space weather prediction center set up by the NOAA says the latest solar flares can cause moderate-to-strong level magnetic storm. “The magnetic storm that is soon to develop probably will be in the moderate to strong level,” Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center, told Reuters.

Solar Flare

A solar flare is a sudden sunspot activity, or in other words, a sudden brightening of the usually cooler and areas of the Sun.
According to space.com, the solar storm erupted from a part of the sun called Active Region 1261 and registered as a M9.3-class solar flare. This M class solar flare is seen as having potential to pose damage to communications and global positioning system (GPS) satellites.

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