The sun unleashes a stream of solar plasma and energetic particles every day, but it is flares like the one that occurred on 4 May that the Met Office is watching closest.
One of the effects of a massive flare is a strong radiation release. This releases charged particles and gas from the sun. Altering the magnetic field around the Earth, there is a risk that radiation may reach parts of the planet that are mostly covered by water, such as northern Norway and the UK. Although this is rare, it can be damaging to aircraft, and even humans. If there is a large enough flare, it can also interfere with GPS and satellite communication.
During last week’s solar flare, the EU Organisation for the Safety of Space (ESO) was keeping a close eye on satellite communication, but did not experience any of the effects from the waves. This has prompted it to issue an alert warning of a possible high-level geomagnetic storm for this coming Halloween.
You might remember when we warned you of Elon Musk’s plan to build a £100 billion interplanetary city across the sun. Now we are back with another planet-boosting scheme, in the form of an entire eco-city. Check out all our story on Elon Musk’s plans here.