A solar blob that’s heading our way from space sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie with an outburst of green plasma, but there’s no need to panic, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.
“We’re not going to be in for a big disturbance,” said Norm Cohen, the senior forecaster at NOAA. “The northern tier of the United States might be able to see aurorae.”
This means a big light show for the north by way of an outburst of electrically charged plasma, which is also known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, as it blasted out from the sun on January 13.
The green blob will travel 93 million miles to get here, but forecasters now expect it to sweep over Earth’s magnetic field.
Most people have heard of solar winds knocking out electrical power grids and satellites, but it’s only when those storms interact with the magnetosphere, and this blob is not strong enough to worry about outages.
The most visible effect should be the northern lights generated by the interaction between the electrically charged solar particles and atoms in Earth’s upper atmosphere, as explained on the “Causes of Color” website. This week’s geomagnetic flare-up should add to what’s already been a great week for auroral displays in northern latitudes.
Chad Blakley, a photographer at Sweden’s Abisko National Park, sent in the beauty you see above. “It looks like there may be more powerful auroras in the days ahead,” Blakley said in an email. “It is a very good time to be an aurora photographer!”
Glowing reports are coming in from space as well. The green show can be seen in Ireland and Britain down south, and Iceland and Scandinavia up north. The ghostly wisps crossing the frame are the northern lights.
For the most part, this blob is more of a light specular show from space.