Solar flare could prompt brilliant Northern Lights display
Sun spot eruption caused strong solar flare
The Northern Lights may be especially brilliant during an expected geomagnetic storm Friday after a sun spot erupted early this week.
The sun spot eruption caused a particularly strong solar flare, according to Spaceweather.com. On the so-called Richter scale of solar flares, it registered as an X1, making it one of the biggest possible.
The flare could have prompted the sun to produce a coronal mass ejection (CME) or a set of gas bubbles threaded with magnetic field lines, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center.
CME can affect solar wind flow and "produce disturbances that strike the Earth with sometimes catastrophic results," according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration website.
It can impact high-frequency radio communication and other communication devices. Solar flares can also knock out man-made satellites and power grids, and affect navigation equipment on airplanes.
A 1989 geomagnetic storm knocked out the Hydro-Québec power grid and left millions of people without electricity for up to nine hours.
HIgh-frequency radio communication was expected to be impacted shortly after the solar flare.
If the CME is heading toward Earth, a geomagnetic storm could occur in the next few days, according to the centre. If the storm does occur, the Northern Lights will be seen farther South than they usually are.
People living in some northern U.S. states, like Maine, Michigan and Minnesota, could see the phenomenon, SpaceWeather.com reported.