Particles from a recent solar storm are expected to induce temporary radio blackouts in some areas and create Northern Lights, or auroras.
Following a massive eruption of solar plasma known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) on December 26, experts predict the fast-moving charged particles strike the Earth’s magnetic field on Wednesday, December 28, for about seven hours.
Particles from another CME could also deliver a glancing blow to our planet a few hours earlier on the same day.
The two impacts will likely spawn minor or moderate geomagnetic storms at high latitudes on Wednesday and Thursday. If they are powerful enough, geomagnetic storms can temporarily disrupt GPS signals, radio communications and power grids, experts warn.
“Category G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storms are expected 28 and 29 December due to multiple coronal mass ejection arrivals,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center wrote in an update on Tuesday.
Geomagnetic storms can also trigger dramatic aurora displays, which are also known as the northern and southern lights.
After being quiet from 2005 to 2010, the Sun became active in 2011, spouting off numerous powerful flares and CMEs. The August flare, for example, was the strongest one seen in more than four years.
Most experts expect such outbursts to continue over the next few years. Solar activity waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle. Scientists think the current one, which is known as Solar Cycle 24, will peak in 2013.
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