A solar flare over the weekend could lead to stellar skies for the coming days.
On Sunday (May 7) at 6:54 PM EST (2254 GMT), a sun Emission class M1.5 long lasting solar flare – an event of medium intensity – immediately at Land. The high levels of radiation associated with this event have already caused minor shortwave radio outages on Earth, according to the report Spaceweather.com (Opens in a new tab).
A solar flare was also associated with Coronal mass ejection (CME), an explosion of solar plasma now heading towards our planet. Spaceweather.com writes that the CME is expected to hit Earth early Wednesday morning (May 10), which could result in moderate to strong geomagnetic activity when it does.
Related: Wild solar weather causes satellites to fall out of orbit. Things will only get worse.
This activity may include supercharged aurora displays. For example, moderate geomagnetic storms can make the aurora visible as far south as New York or Idaho, and strong storms can make it visible to people all the way up in Illinois or Oregon.
Do notice, however, that space climateLike Earth’s weather, it’s a fickle thing, and forecasts can change at any moment.
Solar flares are bright blasts of electromagnetic radiation emitted from sunspots, while electromagnetic flares are ejections of plasma and magnetized particles from the sun that travel more slowly through space. Solar flares that hit Earth can cause communications outages, while coronal mass ejections are associated with the aurora borealis. Although they do not necessarily occur simultaneously, the brightest solar flares often coincide with solar flares.
We are moving towards solar maximum, or the period of greatest solar activity, in the next year or two we can expect more frequent and larger solar storms. As a result, we should see some amazing aurora displays as well.
In fact, the upcoming solar storm is the latest in a series of space weather events to rock Earth. On Sunday, for example, a similar solar weather event boosted auroral displays for skywatchers across the planet.
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