Solar storm: UK alert as Earth faces ‘glancing blows’ – sun erupts with ‘dozens’ of flares

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Over the past week, the Earth has been hit by a number of different solar storms one after the other, with some experts describing them as “machine-gun” fire-like. Originally, the blasts were only expected to last for a few days, but experts now warn that the Sun has ejected around a dozen more flares.A solar storm occurs when the Sun ejects powerful bursts of energy in the form of solar flares and coronal mass ejections.


The Sun is currently at the peak of its 11-year cycle, which is known as the solar maximum.

At this time, more sunspots emerge on its surface, and as a result, the number of space weather events like solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) grows.

These sunspots appear darker than their surrounding on the surface of the Sun and can stretch for hundreds of millions of miles.

Sunspots are a result of magnetic disruptions in the photosphere — the lowest layer of the sun’s atmosphere — with these disturbances exposing the cooler layers of the star underneath.

In just the past 24 hours, experts have warned that the active sunspot AR3078 has ejected four M-class solar flares, and over a dozen C-flares.

Space weather expert Dr Tamitha Skov tweeted: “This region just does not stop! Such a gorgeous eruption.

“We could very well get more solar storm glancing blows through August 21. Model runs are changing rapidly!” wrote: “The blast was bookended by similar explosions hours earlier and later.

“The fusillade could cause additional grazing CME impacts here on Earth Aug. 20th and 21st, extending the ongoing spate of geomagnetic activity.”

Solar storms can have a number of effects, ranging from increased auroras in lower latitudes to entire satellites being brought down.

While NASA had previously predicted that the cluster of solar storms battering Earth this week would cumulatively produce a powerful G3 class solar storm, it only resulted in G1 and G2 class storms.

Following the geomagnetic storm, Dr Skov tweeted: “Right on cue: Aurora brightens as the first of the expected solar storms turns on the intensity.

“Substorms are active now and shows should be visible where clear and dark skies prevail.

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“Norway, Sweden, UK, Northern Europe — get ready.”

She added: “Expect sporadic aurora down to mid-latitudes through August 20.

“Disruptions to amateur radio expected on Earth’s nightside. GPS reception issues at dawn, dusk & near aurora.”

The aurora are natural light shows generated when particles from the solar wind excite atoms in Earth’s upper atmosphere, making them glow.

When seen in the northern hemisphere, they are known as the aurora borealis, whereas their antipodean counterpart is called the aurora australis.

The aurora form curtains of light that follow the geomagnetic field lines — and appear in different colours depending on which atoms are being excited.

The two primary gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are oxygen, which emits a greenish light, and nitrogen, which appears in hues of blue, pink and purple.

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