SPACE experts are monitoring a new solar flare that could “graze” Earth today.
The eruption was originally expected to hit Earth on Friday the 13th, but it could cause a solar storm much earlier.
SpaceWeather.com experts explained, “Sunspot AR3007 has a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions – and it faces Earth almost directly.
“NOAA forecasters estimate there is a 50% chance of M-class flares and a 20% chance of X flares on May 12.”
The predicted solar flare has been labeled CME.
A CME is a type of solar flare called a coronal mass ejection.
It is a huge expulsion of plasma from the outer layer of the Sun, called the corona.
When solar flares hit the Earth’s magnetic field, they can cause geomagnetic storms that affect our satellites and the power grid.
A recent solar storm caused radio outages around the Atlantic Ocean that lasted over an hour.
Every solar storm that hits Earth is ranked by severity.
The flares expected today could be Class M flares or Class X flares.
SpaceWeather.com explains: “Class X Flares are large; these are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.
“M-class flares are medium in size; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions.”
Intense flares can pose a threat to humans on the International Space Station.
They can be fatal to an astronaut if they cause injury or interfere with mission control communications.
A minor storm can confuse migrating animals that rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to find their way.
Fortunately, Earth’s magnetic field helps protect us from the most extreme consequences of solar flares.
Each solar flare is made up of intense electromagnetic radiation that shoots out from the Sun from time to time and can send a stream of highly charged particles in our direction.
This radiation could be harmful to us if we did not have the protection of our magnetic field.
In 1989, a strong solar flare hurled so many electrically charged particles onto Earth that the Canadian province of Quebec lost power for nine hours.
The Sun is currently at the start of a new 11-year solar cycle, which typically sees flares and eruptions become more intense and extreme.
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