A hole in the equatorial region of the Sun’s atmosphere has appeared, researchers have said. The hole was spewing solar particles at a speed of 500 kilometers per second, or 1.8 million kilometers per hour. Unfortunately for our home planet, it crossed the direct path of the stream of solar particles.

Forecasters expected the stream to hit Earth on Sunday, May 2, saying it could affect Earth’s satellite technology.

It has been categorized as a G1 class storm which can lead to “weak power grid fluctuations” and can have a “minor impact on satellite operations”.

Astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on his Space Weather site: “Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on May 2 when a stream of solar wind is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field.

“The gaseous material is flowing faster than 500 km/s from an equatorial hole in the sun’s atmosphere.”

Solar storm travelling at 1.8million km per hour to hit Earth
sun
A hole in the equatorial region of the Sun’s atmosphere has appeared (Image: NASA)

While this solar storm is largely insignificant, some experts have warned a major solar storm is a matter of “when not if”.

Every so often, the Sun releases a solar flare which in turn blasts energy into space.

Some of these solar flares can hit Earth, and for the most part, are harmless to our planet.

However, the Sun can also release solar flares so powerful that they can cripple Earth’s technology.

Some experts have warned a major solar storm is a matter of
Fun facts and figures about the Sun

Previous studies have revealed the Sun releases an extreme solar flare every 25 years on average, with the last Earth-hitting one coming in 1989.

This storm saw power outages in Quebec, Canada, as conducting rocks on Earth can carry the excess energy from the magnetic shield and plough it into the national grid.

On top of that, an intense solar storm can down satellite systems, as the bombardment of solar particles can expand Earth’s magnetosphere, making it harder for satellite signals to penetrate.

While it is impossible to predict when and where a huge solar storm might hit, it is inevitable one will hit the planet in the future.

As such, experts have bemoaned the lack of preparation for an extreme space weather event, warning that it could cost trillions and cause widespread panic.

Risk consultancy firm Drayton Tyler said: “A solar superstorm is a ‘when, not if’ event.

“In the worst case, the direct and indirect costs are likely to run into trillions of dollars with a recovery time of years rather than months.

“The probability of an event of that size happening is estimated by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering as one in 10 in any decade.”

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