A trifecta of sunsplosions over the past few days has prompted government agencies to once again warn of possible power and communications disruptions. The coronal mass ejections could produce a strong aurora as far south as Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to space weather forecasters at NOAA.
The sun spewed three CMEs Earthward last week, sending solar particles hurtling toward the planet. The last two combined, resulting in a strong compression of the magnetosphere, NASA said. The double punch was expected to disturb power grids at high latitudes, NASA said.
2011 has already been a big year for solar flares, with a previous CME in February disrupting shortwave communications in China and ship-to-shore radios. That flare led to aurora borealis as far south as Great Britain. Then in June, a relatively smaller flare belched a billion tons of material away from the sun before it collapsed back to the surface.
The first CME already passed the Earth late last week, and the second two are affecting us right now, according to Reuters. The Space Weather Prediction Center at NOAA is forecasting a moderate to strong magnetic storm. The second two flares impacted an already compressed magnetosphere, so additional solar activity could exacerbate the disturbance — or do nothing at all, forecasters said.
It's all part of the sun's ramped-up cycle of activity, which is expected to peak sometime in 2013. Scientists have been beating the drum about solar activity preparations as the 11-year solar cycle continues, because a massive flare can disrupt satellites, power grids and telecommunications. Here's hoping this triple threat is it for a while.
2013 doesn't matter the sky is falling 2012, oh right, only for people misinterpreting a calendar for a non-existent culture.
Seriously, the most amazing thing about this story to me, is "billion tons". Take a minute to think about that, we would need 1 billion one ton pickups to haul that away. The human population probably weights about half a billion tons combined. So the sun just spewed more mass than all people combined. And it does this several times over it's life, probably more time than we mass eject matter in our life.
Sorry it amazes me how huge these things are, and how small we really are when it comes to the size of things in the universe. Not even getting into the trillions of suns doing the same thing.
If you are a Patriarch calendar you die at the end of your calendar, I say god bless to you. If you are of a Matriarch calendar you cycle and it's just a new season-new beginning, I say god bless too. And there you go. Research the two different calendars or philosophies. Patriarch or Matriarch and so what you are closely too. You know where you are, when you know where you stand.
A billion tons....yes, that is truly amazing. But how is that measured? Maybe it was really 10 Trillion tons to the 20th power. In any case it does in fact show what a small little thing we are on earth. When that sun goes we all go with it.
Saw them this weekend while camping in Northern MN. Pretty awesome, except for my family thinking they're caused by light reflecting off of icebergs...