Solar Flare Predicted To Closely Pass Earth In Matter Of Days

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A solar flare is expected to come close to Earth's magnetic field on Sunday (5 June) or Monday (6 June) causing a geomagnetic solar storm.

Space experts have confirmed an eruption on the sun occurred yesterday (2 June), hurling a solar flare known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. 

CMEs are enormous expulsions of plasma from the sun’s outer layer - or corona - and can cause power grid fluctuations.

A solar flare might hit earth in the coming days. Credit: Alamy

According to The Sun, weather experts explained: "Yesterday, a magnetic filament on the sun erupted, hurling a faint CME into space.

"NOAA forecasters say it could hit Earth's magnetic field on June 5th or 6th.

"Even weak CME strikes can cause geomagnetic storms, so there is a chance of minor G1-class storms when the CME arrives."

Us humans are normally protected from CMEs by earth’s magnetic field, however the more severe consequences of solar flares can’t always be stopped.  

Thankfully, if this solar flare did hit Earth, we’re only likely to see small power grid fluctuations and perhaps minor satellite communication impairment as this is only a ‘G1-class’ storm. 

Solar storms that hit earth are graded by severity, with ‘G1-class’ being bottom of the ranking, according to SpaceWeather.com.

Listing possible effects of a G1 storm, the site notes: “Migratory animals are affected at this and higher levels; aurora is commonly visible at high latitudes.”

Space experts have confirmed an eruption on the sun occurred yesterday. Credit: Alamy

At the other end of the spectrum is a G5 storm, which SpaceWeather considers ‘extreme’.

If earth were to be hit by a solar flare of this magnitude, we could expect ‘widespread voltage control problems’ and ‘grid system blackouts’.

Satellite navigation would also be ‘degraded for days’ and low-frequency radio navigation would likely be out for hours. 

All this increased amount of activity on the sun's surface comes during a time period of unprecedented space activity from earth - which could massively affect the number of commercial satellites in earth's orbit most vulnerable to solar eruptions.

That exact scenario happened in February, when a massive geomagnetic storm dragged 40 newly-launched SpaceX satellites out of orbit, The Independent reported at the time. 

When it comes to avoiding future satellite losses, spacecraft engineering companies' best bet is to monitor space weather in real time.

Back in April, the sun spat out the biggest solar flare in years, with SpaceWeather reporting that rogue sunspot AR2993 erupted twice in quick succession on April 25, produceding 'an overlapping pair of M1-class solar flares'.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Space

Aisha Nozari

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