Solar Storm Flares Toward Earth With Explosion of Protons

Solar Storm Flares Toward Earth With Explosion of Protons

Solar Storm Flares Toward Earth With Explosion of Protons

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Jan. 24 2012 3:13 PM

Solar Storm Flares Toward Earth With Explosion of Protons

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(In this handout from the NOAA/National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center, shows the coronal mass ejection (CME) erupting from the sun late January 23, 2012.)

Photo by NOAA/National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center via Getty Images

The sun is angry this day my friends.

The biggest solar storm in close to a decade is reaching planet Earth this week, disrupting radio signals, scrambling global positioning systems, and bringing Northern lights as far south as New York State.

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The Coronal Mass Ejection blasting toward Earth at 1,400 miles per second is the largest since 2005, and though a relatively common occurrence, the CME is also accompanied by an intense proton storm. Air traffic has already been affected, with some of the planet’s North Pole flight routes altered for fear that some high frequency radio may be disrupted.

Satellites, the power grid, and professional grade GPS may also be affected, and there’s a slim chance of protons killing electrical equipment. But in most scenarios, regular consumers won’t be impacted at all. If you in the North though, keep an eye to the sky—the solar storm will put on some spectacular light shows.  

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.

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