Solar storm incoming: 'Explosion' of flare from Sun en route to batter Earth tomorrow


A solar flare detected on Tuesday, July 20, has cast a rogue cloud of charged particles towards our planet. Although not aimed directly at Earth, the "explosion's debris" is forecast to trigger a minor solar storm in the magnetosphere surrounding Earth on Friday, July 23. Experts at the US Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) have warned the storm could lead to weak power grid disruptions.

The experts wrote in their three-day forecast: "A G1 (Minor) or greater geomagnetic storms is possible on July 23 in response to a glancing blow CME."

CMEs or coronal mass ejections are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun that are sometimes accompanied by solar flares.

CMEs and flares can, in turn, trigger solar storms by casting high-speed streams of charged material at the magnetosphere - the region of space around Earth that is dominated by the planet's magnetic field.

According to the US space agency NASA, this can peel the magnetic field "open like an onion", allowing the charged particles to hit the poles and atmosphere.

READ MORE: Buck Moon: What is the meaning behind July's unusual Full Moon?

Solar storm incoming: 'Explosion' of flare from Sun en route to batter Earth tomorrow

Solar storm forecast: A cloud of charged material from the Sun will strike Earth on Friday, July 23 (Image: NASA)

Solar storm incoming: 'Explosion' of flare from Sun en route to batter Earth tomorrow

Solar storm forecast: Solar storms can have an impact on tech and power grids (Image: NASA)

Modelling by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and SWPC suggest the debris will strike Earth's magnetic field at some point between Friday and Saturday.

Luckily for us, the forecasters are only expecting a minor, G1 storm tomorrow.

Solar storms are ranked on a scale of G1 (Minor) to G5 (Extreme).

A G1 storm can cause "weak power grid fluctuations" and have a "minor impact on satellite operations".

Weak solar storms are also known to have an impact on migratory animals and can trigger beautiful auroras.

Solar storm incoming: 'Explosion' of flare from Sun en route to batter Earth tomorrow

Sun fact sheet: Incredible facts about the star in our solar system (Image: EXPRESS)

Solar storm incoming: 'Explosion' of flare from Sun en route to batter Earth tomorrow

Solar storm forecast: An example of a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) (Image: NASA)

NASA said: "During certain space weather events, solar energetic particles spiral down geomagnetic field lines in the polar regions, where they increase the density of ionized gas, which in turn affects the propagation of radio waves and can result in radio blackouts.

"These events can last for several days, during which time aircraft must be diverted to latitudes where satellite communications can be used."

Because these events are unpredictable and there is nothing we can do about them, some experts have warned "we're sitting ducks" for a major storm to cripple our technology-reliant world.

According to a 2013 report the economic cost of a major solar storm hitting Earth would cause £0.43trillion to $1.87trillion ($0.6trillion to $2.6trillion) in damages in the US alone.