An extremely large “solar flare” may disrupt GPS signals, mobile phones and air traffic tomorrow.
The Belgian Star Observatory has made that warning today. Last Monday night the Sun fired a big cloud of electrically charged particles to herald a new 11-year solar cycle.
At the Royal Observatory (KSB) the alarm bells were ringing last night because an extreme solar flare was observed on the sun. The previous solar flare of this size dates back to December 2006. Some even suggested in 2009 that the Sun was supposedly “death”. But nothing is less true, according to the KSB.
According to the specialized website spaceweater.com it is the FIRST X-FLARE OF THE NEW SOLAR CYCLE. X-flares are the strongest type of solar flare, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. The peak was at 02.56 hours Dutch time.
The KSB warns on the basis of satellite data, including the Belgian satellite Proba-2, that a plasma cloud is moving toward Earth at a speed of 1,000 km/s.
That cloud will impact earth on Thursday. A satellite that is close to the earth in the sight of the sun has already observed a stream of energetic particles.
The Space Weather team must now first figure out the magnetic structure of the cloud. To determine how Earth’s magnetic shield will react to the impact.
“Perhaps tomorrow we will receive a geomagnetic storm, and we might be able to observe the northern lights tomorrow” said a spokesman of the Observatory in the Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
Such an outburst, a solar flare, disrupts satellites and possible affect radio communications and power supply on earth.
GPS systems might also give false indications, according to them, although it will be limited to a difference of about 10 meters.
9 million Canadians were left without power for 11 hours after a similar eruption In 1989.
Photo By NASA Goddard Photo and Video