A solar belch erupted from the sun early Saturday (Feb. 9), triggering an intense sun eruption aimed squarely at Earth. The solar storm, however, should not endanger satellites or astronauts in space, but could amplify auroras on Earth. The solar eruption —called a coronal mass ejection —occurred at 2:30 a.m. EST (0730 GMT) on Saturday during a minor, but long-duration, flare. It hurled a wave of charged particles at Earth at speeds of about 1.8 million miles per hour (nearly 2.9 million km/h).
The sun has an 11 year cycle, at the peak of which it tends to produce far more solar flares than at at the end of the cycles. This year we are hitting the peak and so we expect a few of these to be Earth directed over the coming months. When aimed at Earth, they can reach the planet between one and three days later, and cause geomagnetic storms when they interact with the planet’s magnetic field. They can also amplify the northern and southern lights displays over the Earth’s poles.
They sun has been doing this for hundreds of millions of years and we’ve know about it since the the time of Galileo so why are we only just now getting concerned? Well. The biggest changers humanity has happened in the last 50 years. We are utterly dependent on telecommunications, the power grid, and oil. A big solar flare could stop any or all of these temporarily, and we can only imagine the problems that would bring.