Solar storm warning after massive flare erupts from sun directly towards Earth

Solar flares are powerful bursts of energy from the sun, which are known to frequently cause solar storms that can impact radio communication, electric power grids and navigation signals.

The sun seems to be particularly active recently, flaring up more and more as it approaches its Solar Maxima, which is the period of greatest solar activity in the star's 11-year cycle.

The Solar Maxima is a time when solar flares are at their most frequent and strong.

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These flares are caused by magnetic activity on the corona — the outermost portion of the sun's atmosphere — causing it to burst and launch plasma into space, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME).

A solar storm is caused by the CME hitting the Earth's magnetic field.

When is a solar storm expected to hit Earth?

On Tuesday October 4, a giant filament around 2,00,000km long ejected from the southern hemisphere of the sun.

Appearing similar to a rubber band, this massive magnetic flare erupted and hurled itself into space, with experts warning that debris from it may be headed towards Earth.

There is also a suggestion that a coronal mass ejection (CME) is emerging from the site of the flare, and may graze the Earth's magnetic field on Saturday, October 8.

What disruptions will the solar storm cause?

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The solar flare that took place on October 4 and captured by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory was classed as an X1.

X-class flares are considered one of the most intense flares and have capacity to knock out certain radio frequencies and can make GPS positioning less accurate.

Solar storms caused by flares can often result in voltage alarms in high-altitude power systems as well as cause transformer damage if they last too long.

The storms can also impact spacecraft operations and pose risks to astronauts, too.

For the storm predicted to graze Earth on October 8, experts warn sky watchers to be alert for "minor geomagnetic storms and auroras".


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