According to NASA, future solar eruptions could cause some problems on Earth.
Per reports from the space agency, the sun has been very active, and as a result, we’re seeing a spike in solar eruptions. Scientists now fear these eruptions could impact GPS signals, power grids, satellite electronics, and radio communication down on Earth.
NASA officials have said that more solar activity such as solar flares, and eruptions are on their way. In addition, this solar cycle is not yet at its peak. Despite this, scientists believe the cycle has already surpassed expectations.
Not only could this impact us down on Earth, but it could also put astronauts at risk and create health concerns for airplane passengers and flight crews.
Additionally, NASA estimates that more solar eruptions and flares will continue to increase until 2025.
As for the current solar flare, NASA first spotted it erupting from the side of the sun, suggesting a particularly active solar region could be heading our direction.
You can see the flare in this video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Sunday. As viewers will see, a plasma structure moves on the left-hand side of the sun shortly before erupting.
Solar flares are eruptions of electromagnetic radiation from the sun that travel at light speed. The increased levels of X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation from flares can affect Earth’s ionosphere. This area is a region of the atmosphere containing electrically-charged particles.
How solar eruptions and flares could cause problems down on Earth
High-frequency radio communications rely on the ionosphere since the radio waves bounce off of it to go around the planet. As a result, solar flares can mess with high-frequency radio communication.
Sunday’s flare has been measured as a C9.3-class flare. This is considered a relatively weak classification relative to other solar flares. Scientists can identify flares by one of four letters increasing in strength from B, C, M, and X.
Each classification has a subdivision from 1 to 9. Most of the time, flares only start having noticeable consequences on Earth if they are M-class or higher.
However, Spaceweather.com stated that the flare’s classification might be underestimated due to it being semi-covered by the sun’s edge.
However, even if the flare didn’t pose any risk of disruption on Sunday, its activity is still worth studying.
Solar flares tend to erupt from areas of the sun known as sunspots. These sunspots are where the sun’s magnetic field lines are so strong that they keep heat from reaching the atmosphere. This leads to less hot, dark-colored areas.
When these strong magnetic field lines suddenly shift, solar flares and other eruptions of solar material, like coronal mass ejections, are erupted. As such, sunspots can be classified as areas of potential solar activity.