A huge solar storm is playing out, delivering an incredible light show in parts of the world — experts say Australians will see it next.
A huge solar storm is putting on a show, and Australia is next in line to see it.
The storm, which has created a Northern Lights-like aurora display, has been seen in parts of Canada already and is expected to be visible above southern parts of Australia in the next few hours.
The solar storm is caused by a type of solar flare called a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a huge expulsion of plasma from the Sun’s outer layer, called the corona.
The CME was expected to arrive on Earth on October 11 at around 1700 universal time — today at 4am AEDT/3am AEST — according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Space Weather Services.
A photographer in the Canadian province of Manitoba shared incredible images of the storm in the last few hours.
Others in several US states including New York, Alaska, Oregon, Minneapolis, Idaho and Ohio snapped the green and red flares in the night sky.
Space weather physicist Dr Tamitha Skov wrote that the solar storm was “just getting underway” and “New Zealand & Tasmania are next on the list so get ready”.
The dancing lights are is expected to take place over Tasmania, the coastline of Victoria and the southwest coast of Western Australia.
The UK Met Office and the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued notices about the phenomenon.
Solar flares can affect communication by disrupting radio signals, but the impact is expected to be minor.
The Earth’s magnetic field helps to protect it from the more extreme consequences of solar flares.
In 1989, a strong solar eruption shot so many electrically charged particles at Earth that the Canadian Province of Quebec lost power for nine hours.
Weaker solar flares are responsible for auroras like the Northern Lights.
Those natural light displays are examples of the Earth’s magnetosphere getting bombarded by solar wind, which creates the pretty green and blue displays.
The sun is currently at the start of a new 11 year solar cycle, which usually sees eruptions and flares grow more intense and extreme.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said magnetic storms can modify radio waves used for communication and navigation.
“Ionospheric expansion can increase satellite drag and make their orbits difficult to control. During magnetic storms, satellite electronics can be damaged through the build-up and discharge of static electric charges. Astronauts and high-altitude pilots can be subjected to increased levels of radiation,” the agency said.
“Even though rapid magnetic field variations are generated by currents in space, very real effects can result down here on the Earth’s surface. That includes voltage surges in power grids that cause blackouts.”
— with The Sun
Originally published as Solar storm to deliver aurora lights to Australia
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