Now Arriving: The most powerful solar storm to hit Earth in almost 7 years.
The storm, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), was expelled from the Sun at about 11:00 p.m. on January 22, and is on course to hit Earth today at about 9:00 a.m. EST.
When it gets here, it may interfere with satellites or affect our power grids. It’s even troublesome enough that flights over the poles have been re-routed.
Oh, and it’s an M8.7- to M9- Class flare. M-class flares are considered “medium-sized,” but this one in particular was this close to being considered an X-Class flare. The largest, most powerful class of solar ejection. The geomagnetic storm is also rated as a G3, or “strong” storm, according to the NOAA Space Weather Scale.
Cue the dramatic music:
This CME signifies a natural “ramping-up” of solar activity as our Sun enters the peak of its solar maximum. This, of course, has been used as proof by many 2012 doomsayers, who claim that a series of increasingly powerful coronal mass ejections and solar flares will, by year’s end, wipe out most life on Earth.
Just last week, on January 19, we experienced another blast of solar energy:
As a result of all this solar activity, the skies above Alaska all the way over to Iowa have been putting on a show. These are the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, which occur when charged particles collide with atoms in our upper atmosphere.
Though, given the amount of solar activity we’ll probably be seeing, both the Northern and Southern Lights should be very exciting.