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Solar Storm Incoming

At 0028GMT on 7 March a giant X-class solar flare blasted material off the Sun and sent it hurtling towards the Earth. To be specific it was a X5.4-class flare, the most powerful we’ve seen in 5 years. That material is due to hit some time this morning (UK time) 8 March and could result in increased aurora activity as well as potentially disrupting communications systems and power transmission. A similar storm in 1989 knocked out the power grid in northern Canada, resulting in a black out for over 6 million people.

Here’s a graphic of the storm as it heads our way, courtesy of NASA (click on graphic for animation):

Keep up-to-date with activity via Spaceweather.com

  1. March 8, 2012 at 08:20

    The one thing I can’t understand is… how do we know it’s coming? I’d have thought the earliest warning would have been governed by the speed of light an the time it takes from sun to earth.

    Do these electromagnetic waves travel much slower than light or is there some other reason for the delay?

    Thanks,
    Grant

    • March 8, 2012 at 09:15

      Tony’s right, these aren’t photons, they’re protons. They are going at quite a gallop, but nowhere near c.

  2. March 8, 2012 at 09:02

    Solar wind is made of particles n that, rather than photons – so we experience the effects after its observed. EM spectrum waves all travel at the same speed: 3x 10(8) ms per s.

    Can it be predicted based on solar activity beforehand, like weather, Steve?

  3. John
    March 8, 2012 at 09:21

    “..some time this morning” ??!! Come on, are you scientists or astrologers?

    • March 8, 2012 at 21:13

      It’s not an exact science, you know. But at least it’s a science…

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