March 8, 2012 16:44 by Bran
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard that a solar storm is heading toward Earth today. But if you're like me, you probably find it all a bit confusing. A storm from the Sun is supposedly flying through our galaxy and toward our planet? Sounds pretty brutal. Will it actually affect us?
Activity around the Sun's surface is cyclical, and rises and falls through an 11-year period. The solar flares created sometimes result in coronal mass ejections (CME) that hurtle toward Earth.
The current CME arrived at our planet this morning, traveling at more than 1,000km per second. And, surprisingly, it hasn't left as big a mark as inspected -- yet. According to the BBC, "There had been fears that this 'coronal mass ejection' could wreak havoc with satellites or power grids on Earth." In layman's terms, the storm could mean many, many hours of darkness for earthlings.
Because there are so many unknown variables, including whether or not Earth's magnetic field can protect us and the magnetic alignment of the substances within the CME, it's hard to prepare for such an event. My advice? Break out the promotional eco-friendly flashlights and hope for the best!