Commentary By Ron Beasley
Hang on BJ there is a solar storm headed your way.
A powerful solar flare Tuesday evening caused the surface of the sun to shudder. A second smaller flare followed about an hour later, and the blasts caused by those flares have hurled a �big blob of magnetized material� toward Earth.
So says Alex Young, solar physicist at NASA Goddard, who spoke with The Times on Wednesday about the flares and their predicted impact.
The good news and the bad:
The results of the coming geomagnetic storm may be pleasant -- auroras as far south as Illinois -- or unpleasant, such as GPS and communications problems, according to Young.
When the material from the coronal mass ejection hits the Earth�s magnetic field -- or magnetosphere -- it causes the field to �ring like a bell,� or oscillate, Young said. This generates electrical currents that move around in the upper atmosphere and, when strong enough, causes electrical currents on the ground.
That means possible disruptions in electricity distribution -- �severe storms can knock out power grids,� Young said. GPS and radio communications can be affected, and electrical currents can even be picked up by oil pipelines, contributing to their corrosion.
So with a little luck we may see some lights in the sky and it won't be our only source of light.