Solar storm warning as high-speed stream set to batter Earth

A solar storm is set to batter the Earth this weekend after a "high-speed stream" was ejected from the sun.

A solar storm is a disturbance on the sun, which can emanate outward across the heliosphere, the outermost magnetic field of the sun, affecting the entire Solar System, including Earth.

When emanating outwards the solar wind escapes more readily into space, resulting in streams of relatively fast solar wind, often referred to as a high speed streams.

The increase in speed from a solar wind high speed stream pumps energy into the magnetosphere, which can cause geomagnetic storms and energises particles.

The fresh warning comes from experts at the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).

According to their predictions, the region of influence will be predominantly poleward of 60 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.

They believe it could impact both satellites and the power grid on Earth.

US Space Weather Center (SWPC) ranks solar storms on a scale of "G1 Minor", the least intense, all the way up to "G5 Extreme".

This one is expected to be a G1 storm.

Even so, the skies are set to be lit up with beautiful auroras, especially in the US.

In their latest forecast, the SWPC stated: "Enhanced circumstances are projected late on January 15 when a recurring, negative-polarity coronal hole high-speed stream becomes geoeffective."

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Spaceweather.com reports that "minor G1-class geomagnetic storms" are possible on Sunday as well when a "stream of high-speed solar wind is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field.

They add: "The gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere.

"Arctic auroras could appear as early as Jan 15 in response to a Co-rotating Interaction Region travelling ahead of the stream."

Even the weakest of solar storms can wreak havoc here on Earth.

At the stronger end of the scale, this is where it starts to get more dangerous.

When CMEs collide with Earth’s magnetosphere, “all of that extra radiation can damage the satellites we use for communications and navigation..it can disrupt power grids that provide our electricity", according to NASA’s Space Place site.

Low-frequency radio signals can be blocked for hours at a time, and power outages could even last days if the storm directly interferes with power transformers.

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