Business & Finance

Solar Flare May Disrupt GPS and Power Grids Sept. 13

A Grade 3 solar flare has the potential to disrupt power grids in space. Credits: NASA/SDO

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The sun emitted an X1.6 class flare on Sept. 9, and while not severe by any means, increased activity over the next several days has the potential to disrupt the atmosphere where communications signals like GPS, power line and radio frequency travel. The information was collected at the NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

NASA said, "The harmful radiation emitted from a solar flare cannot pass through tory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground."

A solar flare is an eruption of high energy radiation from the sun's surface that can forcefully eject energy photons and particles.

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According to the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center, "G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storms remain in the forecast for September 12 as a result of the coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the R1 (Minor) solar flare observed on Sept. 9."

A G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch is in effect for Sept. 13. An S1 (Minor) solar radiation storm that is in progress as a result of the eruption yesterday will continue for the next few days and is expected to enhance the Northern Lights in the United States on Thursday and Friday nights.

Documented cases of the impact of solar flares on earth include: 1972 AT&T Long Distance phone lines in the midwest; 6 million people left without power in Canada in 1989; radio blackouts and satellite short circuits in 2000; and a 2006 solar flare that interrupted satellite-to-ground communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) signals.

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