Extreme solar storms sweeping the Earth, shocking at the same time worrying

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,- Weather experts warn of potential disruptions to the electricity and communications networks as the sunlight continues in the coming days.

The worst solar storm in more than 20 years has hit the Earth's atmosphere, triggering a warning of potential interference with electricity networks and satellite communications.

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), which issued a rare solar storm warning, said the solar blast reached the Earth around 16:00 GMT on Friday (10/5/2024), several hours earlier than expected.

The first of several coronal mass ejection(CMEs), described as plasma and magnetic field discharges from the sun, was later raised by the NOAA to be an “extreme” geomagnetic storm. It was the first solar storm to occur since the Halloween storm in October 2003, which caused power outages in Sweden and damaged power infrastructure in South Africa.

More effects of the solar storm are expected to occur in the next few days, and probably until next week, according to the NOAA. The U.S. agency has warned power plant operators and spacecraft in orbit to take precautionary measures.

Magnetic field fluctuations associated with geomagnetic storms cause currents on long wires, including power lines, potentially causing power outages. Long pipeline networks can also become electrical, causing technical problems. The spacecraft is also at risk of exposure to high doses of radiation, even though the atmosphere prevents such radiation from reaching Earth.

Following a very strong peak, the NOAA Space Weather Forecast Center said users of high-frequency radio signals “may experience temporary degradation or complete loss of signal on most of the sun-lit sides of the Earth”.

Unlike the solar flames, which move at the speed of light and reach the Earth in about eight minutes, the CME moves at a more stable speed, and officials estimate that the current average speed is 800 kilometers (500 miles) per second. They say that CME originates from a massive cluster of sunspots 17 times the size of the Earth.

Experts have also warned that pigeons and other species that have an internal biological compass could be affected. Pigeon managers have noted a decrease in the number of birds returning home during a geomagnetic storm, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the US space agency, NASA.

NASA has a dedicated team that oversees the safety of astronauts, and can ask those at the International Space Station (ISS) to move to places in the front post that have better protection. Officials say the public should have a normal backup plan in case of power outages, such as having lamps, batteries, and radios. 


 (Wahyu fatih/Newsline Paper Teams)

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