A HUGE solar storm has hit the Earth, but could still cause major issues for power grids, experts suggest.
The storm has already treated parts of UK and parts of North America to a Northern Lights-like display.
Solar storms may cause issues for our tech on Earth[/caption]
The storm has been rated a G2, which means it could be ‘moderate’[/caption]
The solar storm is caused by a type of solar flare called a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a huge expulsion of plasma from the Sun’s outer layer, called the corona.
It was estimated to impact Earth from around 5pm BST (12pm ET) yesterday according to both the Met Office and the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Later reports suggest it eventually hit the Earth at approximately 3:30 BST this morning.
However, experts have continued to warn that the storm could take effect today.
Speaking to the Express, Mathew Owens, Professor of Space Physics at The University of Reading said: “The next few hours will tell us how the storm will develop.”
Solar flares can affect communication by disrupting radio signals.
In 1989, a strong solar eruption shot so many electrically charged particles at Earth that the Canadian Province of Quebec lost power for nine hours.
As well as causing issues for our tech on Earth, they can be deadly for an astronaut if they result in injury or interfere with mission control communications.
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The Earth’s magnetic field helps to protect us from the more extreme consequences of solar flares.
Weaker solar flares are responsible for auroras like the Northern Lights.
Those natural light displays are examples of the Earth’s magnetosphere getting bombarded by solar wind, which creates the pretty green and blue displays.
The sun is currently at the start of a new 11 year solar cycle, which usually sees eruptions and flares grow more intense and extreme.
Read our Solar Storm live blog for the latest updates…
These events are expected to peak around 2025 and it’s hoped the Solar Orbiter will observe them all as it aims to fly within 26 million miles of the sun.
The NOAA revealed on its website: “Event analysis and model output suggest CME arrival around midday on 11 Oct, with lingering effects persisting into 12 Oct.”
The Met Office previously said the event should only cause “minor to moderate geomagnetic storms”.
It said: “Minor storms may continue into 12 October, before a fast wind from a coronal hole may arrive, perhaps continuing the rather active period of geomagnetic activity.
“Aurora is possible through 11th across much of Scotland, although cloud amounts are increasing, meaning sightings are unlikely.
“There is a slight chance of aurora reaching the far north of England and Northern Ireland tonight, but cloud breaks and therefore sightings are more likely in Northern Ireland.”
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