Halloween solar flare could send stunning Aurora Borealis as far south as Pennsylvania over the weekendOctober 30, 2021
A HUGE solar flare could light up the night sky over parts of America this Halloween weekend.
The Sun launched a major "X-class" flare on Thursday which could cause major issues for power grids and trigger the Northern Lights as it heads towards Earth.
It has already caused a temporary, but strong, radio blackout in parts of South America, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).
The flare is expected to hit Earth this weekend – in time for Halloween – with stunning Aurora Borealis set to be visible across the US.
It could also see areas rocked by a potentially strong geomagnetic storm, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned.
Storms of this level can produce displays of the northern lights visible at latitudes as low as Pennsylvania.
Dr Tamitha Skov, a space weather physicist, said on Twitter: "A direct hit for Halloween! The solar storm launched during the X-flare today is indeed Earth-directed!
"NASA predictions confirm impact by early October 31.
"Expect aurora to mid-latitudes, as well as GPS reception issues and amateur radio disruptions on Earth's nightside!"
The flare is the result of a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a huge expulsion of plasma from the Sun's outer layer, called the corona.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which tracks the star's activity, captured an image of the flare at 11.35am EST on Thursday.
In a blog post, Nasa said that the "significant" flare has been classified as X1.
Flares are ranked by letter, with the biggest labeled as "X-class." The smallest flares are "A-class."
Solar flares can have an impact on Earth as they affect our planet's magnetic field, which in turn can disrupt power grids and communications networks.
Nasa said: "Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground."
"However – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel."
Thankfully, due to the flare's intensity, any disruption it causes is likely to be temporary.
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