Solar Flares that erupted on Tuesday as reported by NASA are expected to hit earth in the next couple of days. The forecast for Auroral Activity from University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute has been classified as Extreme over the next several days. Weather permitting, Auroral activity should be visible across Alaska, from Barrow to Kodiak.
According to the NASA, two Coronal Mass Ejections erupted from the sun on Tuesday. NASA’s Goddard Space Center confirmed that the larger flare reached a magnitude of X5.4, making it among the strongest and most active solar flares, with the potential to interrupt satellite operations and even ground-based communication and electrical grids. According to BBC World Service, The Flares are “shaking Earth’s magnetic field like a snow globe.” The last time we saw Coronal Mass Ejections of these magnitudes were in August, 2011, and December, 2006.
NASA models using data from the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and the Solar Heliospheric Observatory show that the first is traveling faster than 13-hundred miles per second; the second more than 11-hundred miles per second. NASA’s models predict that the flares will impact both Earth and Mars. The models also predict that the leading edge of the first flare will reach Earth at about p:25 pm last night (plus or minus 7 hours).
The sun is currently reaching the peak level of activity in an 11-year cycle during which activity on the sun ramps up to solar maximum, which is expected to peak in late 2013.