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A G1 geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for the next 48 hours after a monstrous tear in the sun’s surface open up last night.
The “canyon-like” hole was spotted on Wednesday by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and is now under keen observation.
The massive coronal hole ripping through the sun’s surface can be seen in the latest SDO photos.
Coronal holes appear across parts of the sun where the magnetic field opens up to give way to intense solar winds.
Scientists have now warned the solar winds will slam into the upper hemisphere, which could produce Northern Lights in the northern parts of the planet.
But the worse is yet to come, with the US Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) warning of power grid fluctuations and impacted satellite operations.
The SWPC said: “A G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm watch is now in effect for the 14 and 15 March, 2018 UTC-days.
“The arrival of a co-rotating interaction region (CIR), followed by a recurrent, negative polarity coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS) is expected to cause the escalated geomagnetic responses.
“Keep checking our SWPC webpage for the latest forecasts, warnings, and alerts.”
For the most part, Earth’s natural magnetic field and atmosphere are enough to shield the planet from the harmful elements of outer space.
But every so often when solar activity spikes, solar winds manage to break through to the planet’s surface.
Typically this results in the spectacular Northern Lights which are triggered by the interplay of charged particles with oxygen in the atmosphere.
But in the most extreme cases, geomagnetic storms have been known to cause blackouts and even disorientate animals.
NASA examined: “Today, airlines fly over 7,500 polar routes per year.
“These routes take aircraft to latitudes where satellite communication cannot be used, and flight crews must rely instead on high-frequency (HF) radio to maintain communication with air traffic control, as required by federal regulation.
“During certain space weather events, solar energetic particles spiral down geomagnetic field lines in the polar regions, where they increase the density of ionised gas, which in turn affects the propagation of radio waves and can result in radio blackouts”
The current outlook is for a ‘minor G-1’ storm, but the storm watch could be upgraded to G-2 status depending on how the situation develops.
A ‘moderate G-2’ watch warns of potential disruptions to high-latitude power systems, transformer damage and even require flight corrections from ground control crews.
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) typically eject from the sun at breakneck speeds between 250kms up to 3,000kms.
According to SWPC, the fastest CMEs can reach the planet in 15 to 18 hours.