Sun Storms May Affect Radios, Cell Phones

Thursday, December 29th 2011. | Science News

Sun StormsIntense solar activity may affect Earth today, potentially disrupting radio and cell phone frequencies.

On Monday, the sun released a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is a “massive eruption of solar plasma,” according to Space.com. The blast is expected to impact the Earth through Saturday.

“Coronal Mass Ejections from the last few days may cause isolated periods of G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm Activity on December 28-29,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center wrote in an update. “R1 (Minor) radio blackouts are expected until 31 December.”

If the storms are powerful enough, they could temporarily interrupt radio frequencies, power grids, GPS signals and cell phone communication, according to Space.com.

NOAA estimated that there was a 20-40 percent chance of these disruptive polar geomagnetic storms on Dec. 28-29 in response to the impact of one or more CMEs.

Another potential result of these storms is impressive aurora displays, also known as northern lights. Skywatchers at higher altitudes are being alerted to the storms and being to keep an eye out for auroras.

Experts say the sun’s increased activity is part of an 11-year cyclical pattern, according to Space.com.

The sun had a low rate of activity between 2005 and 2010, but has had several eruptions, powerful flares and CMEs this year.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory tweeted on Wednesday that two CMEs occurred within 24 hours earlier this week.

Related For Sun Storms May Affect Radios, Cell Phones