Patrick Osborn

Solar Storm May Disrupt Technology

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Cicely C. Mitchell

The largest solar storm in five years arrives early Thursday and it is expected to scramble the globe’s magnetic field while expanding the Northern Lights.

The storm began with a massive solar flare earlier in the week and grew.

It continued to race outward from the sun, while it expanded.

If it follows predictions of striking, it will then be moving at 4 million mph.

Scientists say that it will “hit us right on the nose” and the massive cloud of charged particles could disrupt utility grids, computers, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas.

This same cloud could also become the backdrop and create colorful auroras farther from the poles than normal.

Astronomers say the sun has been relatively quiet for some time.

Thursday’s solar storm is part of the sun’s normal 11-year cycle, which is scheduled to reach peak storminess next year.

A solar storm is an event in which activity on the Sun interferes with and compromises the Earth’s magnetic field.

Because the Sun is so far away, many people believe that solar storms are not capable of causing very much damage; they can, however, in fact be quite devastating.

Solar storms occur as a due to events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

These flares and ejections have the ability to generate a so-called “solar wind,” or a gust of charged particles which can slam into the Earth’s magnetic field in hours should that solar wind happen to be traveling in the direction of Earth.

The most severe solar storm in recorded history occurred in 1859. known as the Carrington Event.

This solar storm caused electromagnetic disruptions all over the world, but also caused auroras over the equator and interruption of scientific devices.

Although solar storms don’t harm people, they have been known to disrupt technology.

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