There has been a giant magnetic explosion on the sun. A solar flare that scientists have classified as "extreme" is blasting its way towards our planet and could hit as early as today.
Solar flares are a result of Coronal Mass Ejections — events where the sun spits out huge amounts of energy in the form of plasma. The resulting flares send clouds of charged particles racing through space.
Thankfully, the worst of it is set to pass above the Earth, so it looks like even if it does cause minor disturbances in our power grids, satellites and radio transmissions offline, it will only be temporary, says Tom Berger, the director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, in an interview with the Associated Press.
In any case, you will be able to see the flare in action live on the internet. The Slooh Space Telescope will be transmitting video of the sun from Prescott, Arizona, beginning on Thursday afternoon at 1pm EDT (3am AEST), reports Business Insider.
Despite causing stunning auroras, solar storms can be extremely dangerous. They can knock out our electrical grids and satellites, leaving us in global darkness without telecommunications or GPS, potentially for years. Back in 2012, we narrowly escaped being fried after a solar storm passed straight through the Earth's orbit (fortunately, we were on the other side of the sun). [Business Insider]