A powerful solar storm will continue to manifest on Earth this Saturday, the day after the highest energy events in two decades triggered spectacular polar auroras visible from Great Britain to Argentina or Chile, threatening outages in satellite communications and electrical networks.

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The first of several ejections of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun began shortly after 4:00 p.m. GMT on Friday, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The NOAA classified the geomagnetic storm as “extreme”, since it is the most powerful since October 2003, when several plasma explosions from the solar corona caused blackouts in Sweden and damage to energy infrastructure in South Africa.

On Friday night, social networks were filled with photos of auroras captured in northern Europe and in countries of the southern hemisphere such as Chile, Argentina, Australia or New Zealand and the phenomenon is expected to continue over the weekend.

“We just woke up the kids to see the Northern Lights in the backyard! It’s visible to the naked eye,” Iain Mansfield, a political adviser based in Hertford, UK, told AFP.

“It was amazing, the sky was painted in all colors. (…) Having the opportunity to see that makes you thank the universe,” Sabrina Chamorro, 40, an employee in a clothing store in Ushuaia, in the extreme south of Argentina, said by phone.

NOAA said this Saturday that “Storms of varying intensity” will persist at least until Sunday.

“The threat of more strong flares and coronal mass ejections [CME, por su sigla en ingl├ęs] “will remain until the large, complex sunspot cluster rotates out of sight in the coming days,” he said.

The authorities asked satellite operators, airlines and those in charge of electrical networks to Take precautionary measures against possible disturbances caused by changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.

The American Civil Aviation Agency (FAA) stated that “no significant consequences are expected” regarding air traffic.

An impact on communications and birds

Unlike solar flares, which travel at the speed of light and reach Earth in eight minutes, These ejecta travel at a slower rate of 800 km per second.

Magnetic fields associated with geomagnetic storms induce currents in long conductors, including cables, which can cause blackouts.

They can also have impacts on high frequency radio communication, GPS, in spacecraft and satellites.

This phenomenon can even affect pigeons and other species that have internal biological compasses.

Elon Musk, whose satellite internet operator Starlink has about 5,000 satellites low in Earth’s orbit, described the solar storm as the “biggest in a long time.”

“The Starlink satellites are under a lot of pressure, but they are holding up for the moment,” Musk said on the X social network.

China’s National Space Weather Center issued a “red alert” on Saturday morning warning that the storm is expected to continue throughout the weekend as it will affect communications and navigation in most of the country, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

“Come out tonight and look”

An effect that amazed people around the world were the polar lights –known as boreal or southern, depending on the hemisphere – in latitudes where they are not usually visible.

Mathew Owens, professor of space physics at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom, explained to AFP that the effects will be visible mainly in the northern and southern latitudes of the planet and that The exact range will depend on the power of the storm.

“My advice is to go outside tonight and look, because if you see an aurora, it is something spectacular,” he continued.

In the United States, this phenomenon It could even be observed in states like California and Alabama.

Brent Gordon of NOAA Space Weather Services suggested taking night photographs with cell phones, even if the aurora is not perceptible to the naked eye. “You would be surprised what you can see in the photo” captured with the most modern cell phones, he stated.

The authorities recommend that the population maintain the usual measures against possible power outages, such as having flashlights, batteries and radios on hand.

The largest solar storm on record is the “Carrington event”, which occurred in 1859, which destroyed the telegraph network in the United States.

>>> You can also read: First geomagnetic storm left devastating results on Earth: when did it happen?

Source: https://www.noticiascaracol.com/mundo/tormenta-solar-provoca-auroras-polares-alrededor-del-mundo-un-espectaculo-celestial

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