Scientists have discovered a coronal hole which opened on the top layer of the sun’s atmosphere, unleashing a barrage of solar particles into the cosmos. Unfortunately for Earth, our planet is caught in the cross hairs of this stream of particles, and space weather forecasters say it could hit on January 23. When the particles hit, it will result in a solar storm for Earth which could see Southern or Northern Lights – or aurora australis and aurora borealis – depending on which hemisphere the solar winds hit.
As the magnetosphere gets bombarded by solar winds, stunning blue lights can appear over the upper reaches of the Northern hemisphere and the lower parts of the southern hemisphere.
Website Space Weather said: “ A hole in the sun’s atmosphere is facing Earth, and spewing a stream of solar wind in our direction.
“Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms and polar auroras are possible when the gaseous material arrives on Jan. 23rd.”
A G-1 solar storm is classified as minor.
While this solar storm is not dangerous, the consequences could be far more serious than the appearance of the Northern or Southern Lights.
For the most part, the Earth’s magnetic field protects humans from the barrage of radiation, but solar storms can affect satellite-based technology.
Solar winds can heat the Earth’s outer atmosphere, causing it to expand.
This can affect satellites in orbit, potentially leading to a lack of GPS navigation, mobile phone signal and satellite TV such as Sky.
Additionally, a surge of particles can lead to high currents in the magnetosphere, which can lead to higher than normal electricity in power lines, resulting in electrical transformers and power stations blow outs and a loss of power.
The higher amounts of radiation also leave people vulnerable to cancer.
The Met Office has warned that we will face a monumental solar storm in the future, which could knock out Britain’s technology and cost the UK almost £16billion in damages.
The country could be blunged into a blackout because it is not prepared enough for powerful solar storms, the Met Office told ministers.
The weather forecaster believes the UK does not have sufficient infrastructure to prepare ourselves for such an event.
A researcher from the Met Office said: “We find that for a one-in-100-year event, with no space weather forecasting capability, the gross domestic product loss to the United Kingdom could be as high as £15.9bn.
“With existing satellites nearing the end of their life, forecasting capability will decrease in coming years, so if no further investment takes place, critical infrastructure will become more vulnerable to space weather.”