Do not panic! A huge solar storm is not heading towards Earth. Posts claiming that a “massive” solar storm is expected to come our way this week, have been widely circulated on the internet. One questionable website wrote: “A high-speed stream of solar wind is expected to hit the Earth’s magnetic field while forecasters issue warnings.”
However, scientists have debunked this claim. Details here:
The claim: A solar storm is heading toward Earth and can affect cell phone signals and cause power outages.
The facts: False claims are swirling about a possible solar storm that could strike this week, but experts don’t see a storm on the horizon.
Online posts on Tuesday began claiming that the storm would cause massive disruption on Earth spanning into the week.
Some posts that made the false claim referred to the supposed event as “Solar Storm 2021” and posted pictures of a fiery sun. But Bill Murtag, program coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, told the Associated Press that no solar storm is expected for this week.
A solar flare, a type of solar storm, occurred on July 3. Solar flares occur when magnetic fields build up on the sun as sunspots.
When magnetic fields twist and create energy, they may violently release that energy in a flash of light, said Alex Young, a solar physicist at NASA. The July 3 event was the first big eruption of this solar cycle and the brightest in four years.
“We usually get 150 of them over 11 years,” Murtaugh said of solar flares. “Fortunately, we are 93 million miles from the sun, so we have the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere that protect us from harmful emissions from these eruptions.”
The July 3 solar flare interfered with some high-frequency communications, but Young said the effect was less than it could have been. “This was really, really slow and not fully ground-oriented,” Young said. “We have no expectation of seeing any impact on Earth.”