Oh good, something else to worry about (the sun this time)

Of particular concern are coronal mass ejections. These are explosions that hurl charged matter like shotgun shot across the solar system — a.k.a. a “solar storm.” If these storms reach our planet, they have the ability to disrupt communications satellites in space, of which there are an ever-increasing number, thanks to internet provider satellites like [Elon Musk]’s [Starlink]. If the conditions are just right, they even take parts of [our energy grid] on the ground offline.

On the eleven year cycle, 2024 is the eleventh, as the sun’s magnetic poles reverse. The results are unpredictable.

On the mild end, they could result in more vivid auroras visible in lower latitudes on Earth. Auroras are the result of charged particles from the sun colliding with gas in our atmosphere. The deflecting power of Earth’s magnetic fields is weakest at the poles — which is why auroras typically happen near them. But they can occasionally drift closer to the equator, and even [appear above the lower 48 in the United States].

If it’s a whopper, it could spell a multitude of disasters. Solar storms can disrupt communications satellites and [GPS in space], and, on the ground, potentially disable parts of the electrical grid. Just as electrical flows can induce magnetism, magnetism can induce electrical current. “Our power grids are amazingly effective at being a kind of antenna for that kind of change in magnetic field,” Knipp says.

The possibility of a direct hit by a powerful solar storm is rare. But it can happen. In 1859, a storm called the “[Carrington Event]” occurred [near] [the peak of the solar cycle], and sent currents surging through nascent telegraph lines, sparking fires and stymieing messages, [according to NASA]. Auroras [could be seen] as far south as Mexico City. If a similar event happened today, risk analysts [at Lloyds of London estimate, it could cost trillions].

Imagine the world without electricity, even for a few days or weeks. Yikes!