A shower of radioactive solar particles will be racing towards the earth this week in one of the largest solar storms in seven years. These particles will impact the earth’s magnetic field, according to NASA, and could affect GPS systems and other communications.
The eruption of the sun’s surface on Sunday caused the flare, called a coronal mass ejection. The particles will travel at 1,400 miles per second on their 93 million mile journey to the earth’s surface this week.
NASA states that solar flares are explosive solar events and they can last anything from minutes to hours, releasing billion of tons of matter. The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a byproduct of this event. Currently they can be seen from Northern Ireland as well as Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Yorkshire, in northern England.
Time magazine reports that most of the radioactive particles will have fallen by Wednesday evening. However, CNN’s reports said they could continue throughout the week.
It is also reported by Time that the radioactive particles could possibly mean “fouling up satellite communication and forcing the rerouting of planes near the poles”.
They continue, “A sudden onslaught of storm-related radiation can potentially disrupt electrical grids, not to mention satellite communication (can you hear me now?)”
“The strongest flood of radiation may slide north of Earth, but polar-traveling airplanes will likely reroute to skip the increased radiation and intense communication jamming. NASA notes that “no adverse effects” will fall upon the six astronauts aboard the International Space Station.”
On Tuesday, Fox News reported that Delta Air Lines was forced to redirect at least half a dozen airplanes that had been routed over the North Pole.
Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta said, “We are adjusting the flight pattern of a few of our flights…We're flying further south than we would normally fly."
Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center insists that there is no risk to people on earth.
Here’s CNN’s video explaining the phenomenon: