Solar storm: Northern lights in focus with solar flare

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    Right now northern lights are in focus with solar flare or solar storm. There are fears that it may hit satellite communications, GPS

    This is the season of solar flares. Scientists at the Space Weather Prediction Center have stated that satellite communications and the Global Positioning System would be hampered by massive amount of solar radiation hitting the Earth Tuesday by mid-morning. The situation will continue for some time as the solar flare responsible for this is a massive one – the biggest since 2005.

    A solar flare sends billions of tons of matter streaming toward Earth from the sun’s surface at millions of miles per hour. This mass ejection was explained by Rodney Viereck, a physicist at the center in Boulder in Colorado. He said these kinds of solar flares are called a coronal mass ejection.

    As per the scientists, the sun undergoes cycles of high and low solar radiation. We are at the beginning of a peak of a solar flare. These 11-year cycles of powerful electromagnetic activity are marked by powerful sunspot regions on the surface. This moment this activity is shifting from a “sunspot minimum” time to a peak in solar activity. This high intensity solar ejection will continue for some years – the duration till which the peak stays.

    Earth experiences major effects of these flares. Very intense flares of aurora borealis, also called the northern lights, are caused by such flares. Owing to the onset of this flare, some international airlines have already diverted planes from polar routes. Viereck also explained that solar flares also hamper radio communication, so planes find it difficult to communicate.

    Viereck further informed that scientists are now able to predict violent magnetic storms caused by solar flares with the help of a new NASA satellite called the Solar Dynamics Observatory. This has greatly helped the scientific community understand the mysterious nature of solar physics.

    The Space Weather Prediction Center is a unit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that comes out with daily reports on the state of “solar weather” and its effects on Earth. The current storm was predicted to hit Earth six years ago, affecting and hampering airline routes, power grids and satellites.

    Terry Onsager of Space Weather Prediction Center explained that Earth received an enormous coronal mass that was ejected from the Sun this Sunday. This mass contained energized solar particles being flung at about 5 million miles an hour (2,000 km per second). This speed was five times faster than the speed of normal solar particles. said.

    Onsager added, “When it hits us, it’s like a big battering ram that pushes into Earth’s magnetic field. That energy causes Earth’s magnetic field to fluctuate.”

    Geomagnetic storms are measured by scientists on a scale of one to five, with five being the strongest. They are predicting a geomagnetic storm of the intensity of levels two and three.