There's a Solar Storm Headed to Earth, and It May Mess With Your Day
The sun has been throwing a party this week and its effects might reach Earth on Friday.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the star unleashed three solar flares — powerful bursts of radiation that happen when loops of electrically charged particles interact with the plasma swirling across its surface.
Don't worry too much. The explosive heat and radiation from a solar flare could never affect us physically — they can’t penetrate Earth's multilayer atmosphere. The electromagnetic radiation from a flare, however, can disturb our planet's outer layer, throwing off our GPS and communications systems there.
Two X-class solar flares, the most intense type of flares, erupted within about an hour of each other on Tuesday. If the activity continues to increase, scientists expect it to result in a coronal mass ejection Friday, a massive explosion of material from the sun whose fluctuations are capable of blowing out transformers in power grids and damaging the electronics on satellites.
We've been through this before, though. The most powerful flare ever measured with current technology exploded from the sun back in 2003, and we made it out all right.
Then again, that one didn't happen on Friday the 13th.