The Sun appeared to look normal, but on August 13, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) at NASA spotted an unexpected flare that was of huge proportions. According to Space Weather, the solar explosion took place as the sun’s atmosphere became unstable as the magnetic fields began “reorganizing themselves.”
The report stated:
“Yesterday, Aug. 13th, a completely unexpected explosion occurred on the spotless sun. Coronagraphs onboard the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recorded a cloud of debris billowing away from the blast site.
The slow-moving cloud is not heading for Earth. It will sail wide of our planet and not cause a geomagnetic storm. If the blast site had been facing Earth, the story might be different.”
If the blast had indeed been facing our planet, we would have noticed not just strong aurora borealis (also known as northern lights), but the radiation from the solar winds would have heated Earth’s outer atmosphere. It would also have heavily affected all satellite-based technology, leading to a loss of GPS navigation, no mobile phone signal, and no satellite TV.
Moreover, the solar flare would have led to higher electricity in power lines, causing the electrical transformers and power stations to blow out and lose power. Such a big solar explosion could weaken the two radiation belts (Van Allen Belts) that surround our planet and defend it against cosmic particles.
What could we do in case of such an event?
According to scientist Joseph Pelton, we can’t do much about it:
“A massive coronal mass ejection that brings millions of tons of ions travelling perhaps at 2 million kilometres an hour, similar to the Carrington Event of 1859, might leave the world’s economic systems and global infrastructure in shambles.
This cosmic menace could knock out the time synchronisation of the global internet, which is essential for it to continue to function day in, day out.”
Fortunately, the blast site was not facing our planet – this time.
Stephen D. James is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Stephen has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.