In the past few hours the solar storm brewing tonight has been ejecting massive amounts of charged particles at Earth and more than a little interest across the globe as experts and space weather watchers try to make sense of the aftermath of one of the largest solar events in the past four years and an impact on the Earth’s magnetosphere has spaceweather.com reporting possible geomagnetic storms to come in the next few days. Is this the solar storm NASA warned us about that could cost trillions and disrupt electrical systems worldwide?
As the sun rises in the East every morning we can be sure sunshine and warmth are soon to follow. But with the tremendous amount of charged energy slamming into the magnetosphere as of 8:00 PM EST on February 17th, we may soon be at the cusp of more than we bargained for from the sun. The power unleashed from a geomagnetic storm could disrupt communications, render radio transmitters inoperable, disrupt the Internet, put astronauts at risk, and have unknown effects on human brainwaves if the power from the system were sustained and powerful enough over the course of the next week. Or it could simply vanish just as quickly as it appeared. But already the first telltale signs of communication disruption are coming from China. And the warning from the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this might only be the beginning.
But while we often cite the Carrington event as the most interesting and extreme example of what a geomagnetic storm could do in the event of a massive coronal mass ejection similar to the ones projected, it’s possible also that we may be treading into unfamiliar territory altogether.
Auroras are expected to illuminate the northern hemisphere farther south than normal with the lights glowing in the skies creating eerie displays on a level not seen in years. And while there may be communications disruptions in the near future, the ones that have been reported so far have been limited lending some evidence to the thought that this may be a thankfully minor incident in the long run. Still as we have yet to see the end of this storm and it continues to build energy, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the activity from the sun as the days unfold. And any relevant information we will be sharing with you in the future.
The Carrington Event mentioned previously was the unprecedented solar storm that disrupted even primitive communications via telegraph and caused many to smoke and burn out with disturbed onlookers unaware of the cause until months later when news of a massive solar flare was finally connected to the event.