MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A massive solar flare has now enveloped the Earth. It’s the result of an explosion on the sun’s surface earlier in the week. The cloud of magnetic particles reached earth around 5 a.m. central time on March 8. Scientists have been watching for world-wide impacts, but impacts have been fairly minimal across the Mid-South so far.
MLGW electrical power grids were not disturbed by the solar storm. The Memphis International Airport did not have any flights impacted by the solar flares, but international flights traveling near the North Pole had to be re-routed due to radio interference.
Strong solar storms typically impact orbiting satellites the most, but can cause communication interruption in cell phone and global positioning systems. Activity on the sun’s surface is expected to increase over the next year.
David Maness, Pink Palace Planetarium Supervisor, says, "The sun is always producing energy in the core. It bubbles like a boiling pot of water. It builds up and builds up until it bursts through."
The sun is 93 million miles away and the particles take roughly two days to reach earth. The magnetic cloud causes the Earth’s magnetic field at the poles to stretch and capture some of the particles. The storm may result in brilliant aurora lights and they may even be seen in the Mid-South.
Scientists aren’t sure how long the solar storm will last. It’s the largest solar storm in five years and could still cause communication problems for as long as it rocks our planet’s magnetic field.