WACO, Texas (FOX 44) — Some people have been concerned about the possibilities of stronger solar flares as we get closer to the higher end of the sun activity cycle.
A solar flare is a cluster of magnetic fields on the sun that explode in a flash of light.
What usually follows a flare is what scientists call a coronal mass ejection, which sends a shock wave producing energetic particles through space that could affect earth’s magnetosphere.
But Dr. Alex Young of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA says we are not at a point to worry just yet.
“We will be reaching solar maximum in about 2025,” he said. “So that’s important. But what that means is we’ll have more and more activity. It’ll be bigger and bigger as we get closer to that. But we will have times in between where there’s not much happening. And that’s actually what the situation is right now.”
In rare instances where solar flares and coronal mass ejections are strong enough for us to feel the affects, we could see a loss in radio frequency, GPS signal, and possibly the loss of power.
The most famous affect felt by solar activity was in Quebec in 1989.
Dr. Young says that it is highly unlikely anything could be felt here as it is usually seen in higher altitude areas of the world but it could also depend on what’s in the ground.
“There are certain places, not just what their latitude is, but what’s the ground made up of underneath,” he said. “It turns out that, you know, the ground can conduct certain amounts of electricity depending on the kinds of material, the ground made of the kind of rock and whatnot.”
He explained that those studies have shown the more conductible ground was found in the New England region and less in the middle of the country.
Dr. Young ended by saying there is no need to panic about solar flares but to be prepared the same way you would prepare for a natural disaster.
“Really to prepare for some kind of event like that, you would want to prepare the same way you prepare for a hurricane or a tornado or anything along those lines.”
So there is no need to panic about the affects from a solar flare but Dr. Young did say if there was a strong enough flare, it could make the northern lights, or aurora, appear.