2020 has been a crazy year: wildfires, global pandemics, Brexit (add 2-3 examples) and now solar flares. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed that Earth may get hit by a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun on Thursday. The CME came from a slowly developing solar flare that was recently detected by the agency.”

“Clearly, the storm cloud is not heading directly for Earth,” SpaceWeather.com stated. “However, NOAA models of the CME’s trajectory suggest it could deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on August 20th. Minor geomagnetic storms and high-latitude auroras are possible when the CME arrives.”

The Space Weather Prediction Center said the coronal mass ejection was created by a B-1 class solar flare, which is the weakest type of solar flare. This means If the CME hits the Earth, only a minor geomagnetic storm should occur.

What is a Solar Flare?

A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events. They are seen as bright areas on the sun and they can last from minutes to hours. We typically see a solar flare by the photons (or light) it releases, at most every wavelength of the spectrum. The primary ways we monitor flares are in x-rays and optical light. Flares are also sites where particles (electrons, protons, and heavier particles) are accelerated. They can throw high energy particles and plasma out into space millions of miles – certainly far enough to reach, and mess with, Earth’s magnetosphere and atmosphere.

What is a geomagnetic storm?

What is a geomagnetic storm and what does it do? A geomagnetic storm is a disturbance in the Earth’s magnetospace. It occurs when an “exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere. The solar wind conditions that are effective for creating geomagnetic storms are sustained (for several to many hours) periods of high-speed solar wind, and most importantly, a southward directed solar wind magnetic field (opposite the direction of Earth’s field) at the dayside of the magnetosphere. This condition is effective for transferring energy from the solar wind into Earth’s magnetosphere.” Severe geomagnetic storms can cause power outages and disable satellite and radio communications for long periods. However, this should be a minor storm.

If you don’t hear SCIFI.radio clearly tomorrow, blame the sun, not our DJ.

Wear your mask if you go outside. Wear sunscreen.