On Monday (July 12), a high-speed solar storm will approach our planet at a speed of 1.6 million km/hour and affect electricity supply and communication infrastructure. As per the latest prediction, mobile phone signals, Satellite TV, power grids and GPS navigation will be affected. According to the Space Weather Prediction Centre of the United States, the solar flare is expected to be at X1 level. Solar flares are categorised under A-class, B-class, followed by C, M and X. As such, X-class flares are the biggest in magnitude. The numerical suffix of 1 denotes the strength of the solar flare.
Earlier on July 3 at 10:29 am, the Sun emitted an intense solar flare which was categorised as X1.5-class flare. It caused temporary blackout over the Atlantic.
This weekend, the Sun released a significant solar flare. This was an X-class flare, which denotes the most intense flares. Here on Earth, we’re protected from flares’ radiation by our atmosphere, though they can impact communications signals. More: https://t.co/tArnFhqTN8 pic.twitter.com/yxKRqQZymb— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) July 6, 2021
On Saturday (July 10), the Planetary Society had tweeted, “The Sun’s power should never be underestimated. In March 1989, the entire Canadian province of Quebec suffered a 12-hour electrical power blackout caused by a solar storm.” Today’s solar fare is unlikely to cause a geomagnetic solar flare or create blackouts of 12-hours in length.
The Sun’s power should never be underestimated. In March 1989, the entire Canadian province of Quebec suffered a 12-hour electrical power blackout caused by a solar storm.— Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) July 10, 2021
Solar flares are intense explosions that take place on the surface of the sun. They are caused when energy stored in magnetic fields is suddenly released. As such, they send radiation across the length and breadth of the solar system. These radiations, which are in the form of radio waves, x-rays and gamma rays, then move towards the planets in the solar system. They transfer their energy into the Earth’s magnetic field and ionize the top of the planet’s atmosphere.
When fast-moving solar flares hit the Earth’s magnetosphere, they might trigger a geomagnetic storm. Such a storm affects satellites, disturbs GPS navigation, cell phone signals and Satellite TV. They can also affect power grids in some parts of the world. The largest solar storms are associated with Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), during which tonnes of plasma move in the direction of planets including Earth. CMEs might take days to reach Earth, however, some arrive within a span of 15-18 hours.
Reportedly, the biggest solar storm till date had occurred in 1859 during the Carrington Event. At that time, the Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) fried telegraph poles across the world. In 2014, NASA had warned that such a flare would tremendously impact the modern power grids and telecommunication channels in the world. National Academy of Sciences estimated a loss of more than £1.45trillion ($2trillion) in damages. Interestingly, the Earth narrowly avoided a Carrington-level CME in July 2012.