NASA observatory spots flurry of solar flares

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It comes following scares of a power outage from a G2 geomagnetic solar storm sparked by a coronal mass ejection (CME) earlier this week. The CME hit Earth’s magnetic field on October 12 at approximately 03:30am, causing only “moderate” disruption. But solar storms are rated on a scale from G1 to G5 – with one being the weakest and five having the most potential for damage.

Power grid fluctuations and impacts on satellite operations were a worry for the G2 storm and experts shave warned that a stronger geomagnetic storm in the future could result in global power outages that could last weeks.

But Professor Mathew Owen, from The University of Reading, told that are ways to try and minimise the potential devastation.

He said: “There are two ways that you can approach this.

“One is to engineer your grid so that it’s resilient. National Grid and the various power companies will be looking at building systems that can tolerate this weather a bit better but it’s very costly.

“The other aspect is forecasting, when you know when an event is coming so you can reduce the load on your power grid so it can tolerate it a bit better.”

The UK has suffered the devastating effects of a solar storm once before.

Back in 1859, a powerful geomagnetic storm hit the earth.

Known as The Carrington Event, it was the most powerful solar storm on record.

While we do not know for sure, a solar storm of this magnitude today would likely cause widespread electrical disruptions, blackouts, and damage due to extended outages of the electrical grid.

And Professor Owens warned that this is a possibility.

He added: “It could affect the UK undoubtedly and that is what we’re planning for and it’s why we have the Met Office giving space weather forecasts.

“It’s difficult to know exactly what the effects on our modern power systems would be, but in modelling these sorts of events we hope to mitigate the effects.”

This is why it is crucial that power companies make their grids more resilient just in case an event like this happens again.

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But solar storms, while they do bring the threat of chaos upon impact, can also leave a more beautiful mark.

The recent geomagnetic storm brought with it a view of the aurora borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights.

For some lucky spectators across the globe, the bright green phenomenon was on full display, with some people even able being able to catch a glimpse in northern Scotland.

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