SAN DIEGO -- Millions of charged particles from a solar storm hit the earth Thursday and similar storms are on the way.
“I would say the sun burped,” San Diego State University Astronomy Professor Dr. William Welsh said. “We are now approaching solar maximum which is the season where the sun is more active.”
Welsh said it is a significant cosmic event that is fairly common.
“The sun has a solar cycle. It has seasons and they last 11 years,” Welsh said. “These bursts of activity are storms on the sun.”
According to Welsh’s charts, the last time the sun was this active was back in 2000 and this is the second strongest flash in the past five years.
When rays hit the earth they’re pulled towards the north and south poles, which creates an intense Aurora Borealis.
The charged particles can cause serious damage. Welsh said they can throw off airplane navigation systems and fry GPS and cell phone satellites.
“In a worst case scenario, if a storm is particularly bad and the material from the sun hits the earth, it can cause blackouts and it can cause damage to satellites and electronic equipment,” Welsh said.