Rare solar storms hit Earth; could disrupt communication, power grids

Rare solar storms hit Earth; could disrupt communication, power grids

Residents worldwide were treated to mesmerizing auroras as the powerful solar storm unfolded.

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A significant solar storm hit Earth recently, marking the most potent one in over twenty years. This storm, caused by eruptions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun, began on Friday and is set to continue through the weekend. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center reported the event, noting its extreme intensity.

The storm has already ignited dazzling auroras visible in regions like Tasmania and Britain. Iain Mansfield from Hertford, Britain, excitedly shared, “We’ve just woken the kids to go watch the Northern Lights in the back garden! Visible with the naked eye.” Photographer Sean O’Riordan captured the breathtaking skies in Tasmania, describing them as “absolutely biblical.”

As the solar storm persists, authorities are on alert, cautioning satellite operators, airlines, and power grid operators to prepare for potential disruptions. Unlike solar flares, which reach Earth swiftly, these eruptions travel at a slower pace, emanating from a massive sunspot cluster. Experts advise people to seize the opportunity to witness the spectacle, especially in areas like Northern California and Alabama.

While the storm’s primary impact is expected at Earth’s poles, its full extent remains uncertain. Professor Mathew Owens of the University of Reading encourages people to look out for auroras, emphasizing their spectacular nature. Despite the storm’s potential risks to technology and wildlife, including disruptions to power lines and confusion for species like pigeons, precautions are in place. NASA is closely monitoring the situation, drawing from past events like the historic Carrington Event of 1859, which caused widespread chaos.