Due to two solar flares that were set off by the sun this week, scientists are expecting a geomagnetic storm to hit the Earth on Friday. The prospect may sound scary to most, but scientists have assured the public that there’s no cause for alarm.
The Associated Press reported that the strongest particles emanating from the sun will likely bypass Earth. Although this will cause changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, the worst that could happen would be fluctuations in the power grid, according to Tom Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center. “We’re not scared of this one,” he said.
A minor solar flare reportedly erupted on Tuesday from the sunspot region AR 2158, while a stronger second solar flare was emitted on Wednesday. The second solar flare was classified as a low-end X-class flare, which is considered the most intense type of flare on the classification scale. The X1.6 flare has prompted the Space Weather Prediction Center to watch out for a G2 geomagnetic storm on Friday and another one on Saturday classified as G3, due to the combined effects of the two coronal mass ejections.
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Storms of this magnitude are reportedly common, but what scientists have found interesting about these solar phenomena is the fact that the sunspots from which they were emitted are located almost at the center of the sun. “This is the first time in a while that we’ve had an active sunspot group pointed almost directly at Earth produce two successive major events,” said Berger.
The flares are reportedly barreling toward the Earth at speed of 2.5 million miles per hour, but because the sunspot group is off center enough, they will brush above Earth. The most apparent effects of the geomagnetic storms will be a disturbance of high-frequency radio transmissions in aircraft, but effects on major infrastructure are not to be expected.