Early Tuesday morning, a medium-sized solar flare erupted from the sun’s surface, accompanied by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).
The effect was something like a giant, fiery-orange wave spilling out from and splashing back onto the surface of the sun.
A CME is actually a spray of millions of solar particles and plasma that are spit from bigger solar flares into space; some of Tuesday’s particles were headed toward earth.
Don’t worry – the most NASA experts said would occur was some possible satellite disruption on Thursday June 9th and a nice view of the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, from the north.
But they also believe that this is the start of a more active sun cycle than we’ve seen in a while.
Over the next 3-4 years, NASA experts expect a pickup in activity from the sun’s surface that they claim will peak around 2013.
This would include some more massive geomagnetic storms, the sizes of which haven’t been seen since 1859.
The “Carrington Event” in 1859 was a result of a large solar flare, and its effect on Earth was a shockingly bright Aurora Borealis and chaos to the telegraph system.
But that was nothing compared to what could potentially happen with today’s level of technology.
The same type of geomagnetic storm that messed with the telegraph system could today cause damage to power, satellite, and communication lines among other things, some of which could be down for days.
According to the New York Times, the absolute worst case would be a shortage of spare transformers necessary to fix the outages, and this could cause whole cities to be down for months.
And you couldn’t just drive to the local store to get these spares either; they’re all made in Asia.
Scientists and NASA officials, however, are attempting to prepare for the worst, and they say that it shouldn’t reach this scale.
Sure, there’s a good chance of power outages, but there will be back-ups to fix them much sooner rather than later.
Perhaps we’re soon to see the universe’s way of laughing at us for our dependence on technology.
That’s all for now,