A ‘cannibal’ solar storm is headed for Earth –  with northern lights imminent

The sun is expected to launch a massive solar storm towards Earth today, with huge bursts of ejecta seen hurtling through the vacuum of space.

After all, the sun is essentially one massive explosion at the heart of out solar system, making solar storms an uncomfortably common occurrence.

This one could be especially powerful though, as not one, but two solar flares have been detected in recent days.

They could potentially cannibalise each other, creating an even more powerful beam heading straight towards our floating rock of a home.

Estimates previously suggested it could hit on Thursday August 18, though the window of its arrival is now closing.

There have also been reports that it could lead to aurora borealis sightings due to the flair smashing into the atmosphere.

When could the 'cannibal' solar storm hit?

There is no exact estimate on when the solar storm could hit the Earth.

However, previous reports started it could happen either on Thursday or Friday and as we all know, nothing happened on Thursday.

It means that it could happen at anytime today (August 19).

What happens when a solar storm collides with Earth?

Humanity hasn’t wasted the estimated 200,000 years of its existence, as we have used our relatively short time to blanket the Earth in technology.

Even though our technological progress has made our lives incomprehensibly easier, it also makes us more vulnerable to cosmic whims.

Solar storms are particularly worrying, as the amount of energy stored inside these beams of light can cause catastrophic damage to our infrastructure.

They are categorised on a G1 to G5 scale, with the higher the number meaning the more devastation to Earth.

This devastation would come in the form of communication and navigation systems shutdowns, along with widespread power system problems.

This impending solar storm is expected to be G3 on the scale.

Dr Tamitha Skov, a space weather expert has been explaining how this G3 storm could also lead to aurora borealis sightings.

On Twitter, she wrote: “Right on Cue: Aurora brightens as the first of the expected solar storms turns on the intensity. Substorms are active now and shows should be visible where clear and dark skies prevail."

As stated on space.com, auroras are connected to coronal mass ejections, which are groups of charged particles that launch from sunspots.

When to see aurora borealis?

Dr Skov said: “Expect sporadic aurora down to mid-latitudes through August 20."

She also explained that this could lead to "disruptions to amateur radios" across the nightside of Earth. Adding: "GPS reception issues at dawn, dusk & near aurora.”

According to AuroraWatchUK, the best time to see northern lights is between 10pm and midnight, though "sometimes the aurora can be seen throughout the night".

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