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Entries in Solar Flare (5)

Saturday
Jul142012

Solar Flare Heading For Earth Not Likely to Disrupt Communications

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A geomagnetic storm from a solar flare that erupted on the sun's surface earlier this week will likely collide with Earth this weekend, scientists say.

The coronal mass ejection on Thursday, caused by the release of excess solar energy, is classified as an X1.4 event. That means the storm is probably too weak to affect satellites used for cell phone communication, but communication using shorter wavelengths, such as radio, may be affected, said John Raymond, a physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"Imagine something with the mass of a mountain being ejected at a speed of a million miles an hour," Raymond said, adding that by the time the storm reaches Earth, its energy will have been spread out over an enormous area. Scientists expect the storm to arrive Saturday morning, and it is still possible that it will miss Earth.

The effects on communications may not be disruptive, Raymond said. During a recent coronal mass ejection, radio operators suddenly found their reach had extended to new continents. Such storms were first noticed in the 1800s, he said, when telegraph operators found they could send telegraphs without batteries.

On rare occasions, storms 20 times more powerful than the one currently approaching have been known to cause electric surges that shut down entire power grids, Raymond said. The surges are the result of movement in the lines of Earth's magnetic field.

The most notable effect of the coming storm is likely to be the spectacular auroras it produces in the night sky, Raymond said.

In March, the largest solar flare in five years hit Earth, prompting fears of disruptions to flights, GPS systems and power grids, but those problems never materialized.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul132012

Solar Storm Headed Towards Earth; Power Grids at Risk

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A solar storm of powerful electromagnetic radiation will strike Earth on Saturday, possibly knocking out power grids and disrupting radio communications.

Scientists say the sun unleashed an “X-class sun storm,” the most powerful type of solar flare, on Thursday and it’s headed our way. 

The wave of charged particles is expected to hit Earth around 1 a.m. Saturday.  Power companies and operators of high-frequency communications systems have been advised.

Folks who live where the Northern Lights are visible should expect a supercharged display.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan242012

Solar Storm Causes Flights to be Rerouted

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A geomagnetic storm caused Delta Airlines to reroute a handful of flights that were scheduled to fly over the North Pole Tuesday.

A Delta spokesman said the flights were shifted to fly further south in an effort to ensure consistent communications. The affected routes were between Detroit and the Asian cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Inchon. United had to reroute one flight Monday and American reported no impact, but said the airline continues to monitor the situation.

The FAA said it was keeping close watch on the situation Tuesday but did not issue an alert.

“The FAA is closely monitoring the current solar storm and the potential for more storms over the next few days, and will issue a Solar Radiation Alert if necessary. So far, radiation dose rates have not been high enough to trigger an alert,” the agency said in a statement.

NASA said the six astronauts on the international space station are safe and won’t need to shelter in place to ride out the storm.

Even though this is the strongest geomagnetic storm Earth has experienced in six years, the radiation has caused only minor problems.

“Operators are surely seeing a greater number of errors on their system that are causing them to work a bit harder, but we’re not expecting satellites to stop,” Douglas Biesecker, a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told ABC News.

Sky watchers in northern states may be able to see fairly vivid aurora displays Tuesday night that resemble filmy white sheets shooting around the sky.

The storm was set off by a chain of events Sunday evening. A moderate solar flare erupted on the sun, which occurs tens of thousands of times every solar cycle, Biesecker said. The solar flare was associated with a coronal mass ejection, which is also a frequent occurrence. However, this particular one was big and sent a cloud of plasma with a magnetic field hurtling toward Earth at 4 million mph.

Earth experienced some of the radiation within an hour of Sunday’s solar flare.

“The ones that escape propogate to Earth at the speed of light,” Biesecker said.

The geomagnetic storm is expected to last for one day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan242012

Strongest Geomagnetic Storm in Six Years to Hit Earth

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Earth will experience its strongest geomagnetic storm in six years on Tuesday, but the radiation is expected to cause only minor problems with satellites, the power grid and navigation devices.

“Operators are surely seeing a greater number of errors on their system that are causing them to work a bit harder, but we’re not expecting satellites to stop,” Douglas Biesecker, a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told ABC News.

The storm is forecasted to be a G-2 or G-3 on NOAA’s ascending five-point scale.

Biesecker said people should not worry about harmful radiation.

“The magnetic field around Earth is protecting us. That’s one of the great things about being on Earth,” he said.

The average person won’t be affected by the radiation unless they’re taking a flight with a polar route.

“Airlines will divert those flights because high frequency communications will be impacted,” he said.

The storm was set off by a chain of events Sunday evening.  A moderate solar flare erupted on the sun, which occurs tens of thousands of times every solar cycle, Biesecker said. The solar flare was associated with a coronal mass ejection, which is also a frequent occurrence.  However, this particular one was big and sent a cloud of plasma with a magnetic field hurdling toward Earth at four million miles per hour.

Earth experienced some of the radiation within an hour of Sunday’s solar flare.

“The ones that escape propagate to Earth at the speed of light,” Biesecker explained.

The geomagnetic storm is expected to last for one day.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Biggest Sun Storm in Five Years Passes Earth

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A giant solar flare -- the biggest in four years -- leapt from the face of the sun on Monday and sent masses of charged particles outward into space, including toward Earth, according to NASA.

The radiation from Monday's flare, known as a Coronal Mass Ejection, was expected to pass Earth on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The charged particles will speed by at around 560 miles per second.

However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., says the Earth is well-protected by its atmosphere and magnetic field.

According to NOAA, when solar radiation picks up, the most dramatic effect is usually a brightening of the aurora borealis, the famous northern lights in the sky over Arctic regions.

A 2008 National Academy of Sciences report warned we are not prepared for the biggest -- albeit rarest -- solar storms, which it said could cause 20 times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio