Watch, solar storms ahead! Earth braces for celestial fireworks in its most energetic phase

The sun is predicted to be extremely active this year. This is expected to be the yellow star’s most intense phase in 20 years, with an increase in solar flares, surface eruptions, and sunspot activity. While there is a chance of radio blackouts and satellite interruptions due to this increased solar activity, it also offers the possibility of breathtaking aurora displays.

The degree of activity here is the highest since roughly 2003, according to Mark Miesch, a member of the solar modeling team at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. This has been the case for nearly 20 years. Earth might see breathtaking auroras that stretch as far as California, Texas, Florida, and Australia if the sun continues to behave as it did in 2003. But there’s also a chance of spacecraft malfunctions, satellite damage, and communication problems.

Though this increased magnetic activity is concerning, it is a normal element of the sun’s 11-year solar cycle. Models from the Space Weather Prediction Center indicate that the sun is currently getting close to its peak activity, which is anticipated to occur between January and October 2024. Elevated activity is likely to persist until 2025 or even 2026.

It is expected that the next solar maximum would surpass the activity of previous cycles, which are already showing more activity than first thought. Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist at Boulder, Colorado’s National Center for Atmospheric Research, predicts some exciting developments in the upcoming year or two. I’m not sure if the fireworks will be comparable to those on Halloween [2003], but they’re definitely coming. We ought to be ready.

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