(For some great pictures of the solar flare, take a look here.)
Basically, the sun has blasted a huge amount of magnetic plasma at the Earth – the bulk of which will start hitting around 9:00 PM (0:00UTC)
Slashdot has a pretty good discussion on the event and what it could mean. Oh, it’s not harmful to people, just electrical stuff.
One good thing, though, is that the Norther Lights or Aurora Borealis will be visible from much further south. I should ask my brother in Colorado to look for them…
The Sun today unleashed what appears to be the third most powerful flare in recorded history, a storm of charged particles that could hit Earth mid-day Wednesday with more effect than any since 1989, when an entire Canadian province had its power knocked out.
Depending on the storm’s magnetic orientation, it could set off a dramatic display of colorful northern lights well into mid-latitudes of the United States and Europe.
Meanwhile, satellite operators and power grid managers are preparing to endure a potentially damaging event. And astronauts aboard the International Space Station have taken cover from heavier radiation sent out by the flare. They are not expected to be in any serious danger.
Kicked up at 6 a.m. EST (1100 UT) today, the major solar outburst comes on the heels of four other flares late last week and over the weekend. All were considered fairly severe, but the latest eruption makes the others seem like solar sneezes.
Today’s blast is classified as an X17, where X denotes a major flare and larger numbers are stronger. That compares to two flare-ups over the weekend that were rated less than X2.
“The flare today may be the third strongest X-flare on record,” said Paal Brekke, deputy project scientist for the SOHO spacecraft, which first spotted the event.
A slightly stronger flare on April 2, 2001 was not pointed at Earth. Today’s storm is headed directly at us and could generate fantastic colorful lights in the atmosphere, known as aurora. The storm associated with the flare is called a coronal mass ejection, an expanding bubble of charged particles that race outward.