Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Solar storm incoming

I almost forgot to post about this, but luckily I was reminded by an endless stream of Twitter updates :)

Last Sunday (august 1st) a massive solar eruption occurred and an enormous solar flare was seen by (among others) the SDO and the STEREO space telescopes. NASA has an entry about it here.
Universe Today has a nice post about it as well.

As seen by SDO

Coronal Mass Ejection
The CMEs (there are two of them four of them) that followed is on its way to Earth as you read this (or if you read this after the 5th, then it has already passed us). A CME is an ejection of billions of tons of plasma from the Suns corona at speeds of 100's of km/s or faster.

Powerful solar storms and CMEs can cause disruptions of radio and satellite-based communications and damage our electricity grids. I don't know much about this so I won't speculate on what's going to happen. The feeds I follow didn't mention anything, but you can follow it here on the NOAA Space Weather Prediction site.
Or you can go to spaceweather.com and read about the current space weather conditions.

The CMEs will reach the Earth around the night of August 3rd/4th and people in the northern latitudes might be able to see a light show (think northern lights [or aurora]).

The first CME has already hit us and auroras should be visible in some areas after nightfall. Unfortunately the auroras appear to be up mostly during the day and we wont be able to see them.
Go have a look!