On Tuesday night, the Sun had a storm. Not a rain or snow storm, like something we would see here on Earth, but a solar flare storm. That’s when a big cloud of highly charged particles are flung from the Sun at an absurdly fast rate, over 4.5 million miles an hour. The particles are racing towards Earth right now as I type this and is expected to reach us at some point today.
I know this sounds ominous, highly charged Sun particles rocketing towards Earth–AHHHH, but scientists believe there’s not much to fear. It COULD cause disruption to high-powered GPS systems, satellites, power grids, and oil pipelines. All operators of these systems have been aware of the potential disruption for quite sometime and have made contingency plans in case.
Solar flares has happened several times over the past few years due to the Sun being in the middle of a 11 year cycle of solar activity, but this is one is expected to be the biggest yet. But it likely won’t be as big as the one to happen next year, when the Sun reaches it’s peak of it’s 11 year cycle. So, get ready for that (for the record, I’m a little bit frightened).
If you are looking for the silver lining to all this, if you live in the northern states, like New York, Illinois, and Iowa, you are going to get a pretty good light show. Get out of the city and see this light display.
Now, check out this trippy HD video that NASA put together of the solar flares from Tuesday night. It’s pretty awesome: