It’s been a long time since Earth was hit by a solar storm of the magnitude of the solar storm that hit Earth’s atmostphere over the weekend; according to the NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the earth was hit by the largest solar storm since 2003 beginning on late Sunday night and stretching into Tuesday morning. A solar storm is a combination of two events, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Basically, it means the sun’s been burping radiation at our home planet. Even if we don’t see it (and we usually don’t), it can do some crazy things to satellite communications and the like.
“Being hit by a CME does not automatically mean aurora,” said NASA solar physicist C. Alex Young, explaining why we all didn’t get another aurora borealis sighting. ”A CME has to be what we call ‘geo-effective.’ It must have enough mass, speed and magnetic field (including the orientation of the field) in order to disturb the magnetosphere sufficiently (to generate aurorae).”
The region responsible for this storm was AR 1402 (the AR stands for active region, meaning a place with a lot of bubbling sun activity). Expect more such eruptions, not just from this area, but from the sun in general. The year 2013 is slated to be a solar maximum year, meaning the sun is going to be very active and earth is going to be getting a nice tan thanks to all the solar energy.