back to article 'Extreme' solar storm speeding straight towards Earth

On Thursday at 5:53pm in London – 12:53pm in New York – the sun let loose with a hefty solar flare, resulting in a coronal mass ejection (CME) headed straight towards Earth that will likely arrive on Saturday at 10:20 UT, give or take about seven hours. The flare was big, though not ginormous. As reported by SpaceWeather.com, …

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      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: Why does it take so long to get here?

        But if that were true, surely if we just tune to the right frequency we'd be able to hear its gleeful and minutely detailed monologue on all the damage its going to cause?

        You can't be a villain and set up certain-doom-at-exactly-this-time without also delivering a monologue. It just wouldn't be cricket.

        Also: No countdown-to-death clock, no self-destruct button and hanging around in the sky all obvious-like rather than skulking under a dormant volcano on a island somewhere? Very poor. I'll bet it hasn't even got one frikkin' laser beam to its name either.

        1. fandom

          Re: Why does it take so long to get here?

          "You can't be a villain and set up certain-doom-at-exactly-this-time without also delivering a monologue."

          I guess you missed the articles a couple of days ago about the Northen lights making noise:

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/10/noisy_northern_lights/

          That's just Sol's equivalent of the mad BHHAWWW

        2. Mike Flugennock

          Re: Why does it take so long to get here?

          ...You can't be a villain and set up certain-doom-at-exactly-this-time without also delivering a monologue. It just wouldn't be cricket.

          Also: No countdown-to-death clock, no self-destruct button and hanging around in the sky all obvious-like rather than skulking under a dormant volcano on a island somewhere? Very poor. I'll bet it hasn't even got one frikkin' laser beam to its name either.

          Hell, from what I can see, it doesn't even have a cat. What the hell kind of villian doesn't have a big white Persian in his lap? (OK, the gang of super-villains in Our Man Flint didn't have a cat, but, still...)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Why does it take so long to get here?

      Because a proton is not a photon.

    2. Joe Gurman

      Re: Why does it take so long to get here?

      The flare's light (visible, UV, X-rays, radio frequency) does in deed get here in 8 minutes.

      The article conflates flares (a relatively common event during the years of maximum solar activity) with coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are considerably less frequent, perhaps two a day at the peak of solar activity. The CME is a plasma and magnetic field blob that is traveling through a plasma, the solar wind, and even if it starts out really fast, is slowed by interacting with the wind. The fastest CMEs can get to earth in just under a day; most take two to three days to get here.

  1. Crisp
    Coat

    This is all we need.

    First the rain. And now we're going to have machines coming to life and AC/DC falling off a bridge and toasters eating people. It's the end of the world all right.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: This is all we need.

      ...cat and dogs, living together...

      1. Crisp

        Re: This is all we need.

        Mass hysteria!

    2. Darryl

      Re: This is all we need.

      AC/DC falling off a bridge

      Does that mean we're on the Highway to Hell?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: This is all we need.

        I just hope the triffids don't escape.

  2. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Power!

    Telecomms will be an issue when the "big one" hits, but most affected will be our power grids.

    Even assuming that they are protected from the MAHOOSIVE surges it will take time to reset the trips and get the juice flowing again.

    Governments are spending a lot of money on solar weather observation, analysis and forecasting because unlike asteroids, and "global warming" these are a direct and potentially immediate threat to our modern civilisation. 150 years ago a mahoosive solar storm would have lead to increased church attendance and some pretty lights in the sky. These days you are looking at possibly millions of people dying and short term economic disaster.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Power!

      " unlike asteroids, and "global warming" "

      The recent extreme weather in the UK and in the US is thought quite likely to be at least partly due to climate change - and look, it is possible to type phrase that without using scare quotes!

      As for asteroids, Tunguska is more recent than Carrington.

      1. Big_Boomer Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Power!

        They are not scare quotes, they are irony quotes.

        Irony because they are oft quoted as the big scary threats to mankind. <LOL>

        How many humans have asteroids killed?

        How many humans has global warming killed?

        How many people will die if you shut off electrical power for half of the planet for a period of a few days?

        No power = no water, no heating, no air-con, no stores open, looting, rioting, and chaos.

        Tunguska killed nobody. It flattened trees and they still are not certain what caused it.

        As for the recent extreme weather, it may be extreme in terms of our recent records, but is it extreme compared to the Maunder Minimum, or the last Ice Age?

        1. Christoph Silver badge

          Re: Power!

          Storms and droughts have killed quite a few people. Massive crop failures will kill a lot more. Forced migration when the land can no longer support people, and the resultant wars, will kill huge numbers. Collapse of societies that depend on high tech farming to feed the current population will be very unpleasant indeed.

          Carrington hit before extensive power systems, Tunguska hit an unpopulated wilderness. Carrington now would kill big numbers. Tunguska on a city would kill big numbers.

    2. AdamWill

      Re: Power!

      Why do you think 'mahoosive' is a word?

  3. Richard Wharram
    Mushroom

    Radiashun \o/

    Could this create some new superhero team perhaps?

    I, for one, am getting bored of the same superheroes getting rebooted every five years in the cinema. We need a big blast of cosmic rays to create some new ones. Here's hoping the guys on the ISS take a good dose \o/

    1. Tel Starr
      Flame

      Re: Radiashun \o/

      PANTSMAN!

      Wearing just a pair of 50" rim solar flares, Pantsman seeks to eradicate the world of skinnie jeans, trackies, and muffin tops!

  4. Mike Richards

    We're fine

    At the first sight of trouble, the Home Secretary has ordered O2 to send a text message composed by G4S that will allow all RBS customers to withdraw emergency beer money.

    Literally nothing can go wrong.

  5. Purlieu

    Ahh

    We went up to the ISS, but all the astronauts had disappered, apart from Carroon. We brought him back to Earth and he's in a hospital bed in the next room. Do you want to speak to him Dr. Quatermass ?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come, friendly CME

    I think we need all the protons we can get, especially after those boffins in CERN have been bosonizing innocent Swiss hadrons.

  7. Sceptic Tank
    Headmaster

    Protons

    Protons, huh? Lucky thing too. If that CME had to come by Ford (like I do) it would probably have had difficulty getting away in the first place.

    <== I'll throw up if I ever make the mistake of buying American again.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Protons

      I thought Protons got turned into BBC micros?

  8. JeffyPooh
    Pint

    Aurora?

    Then it'll be clouded over here. It always happens.

  9. Dennis Wilson

    Power loss

    I wonder how many televisions, lifts, and vibrators will stop working when this one hits.

  10. MrT
    Alert

    "Millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced."

    Ah, that'll be the day we realised we had just got a coalition government... didn't know that LibDem voters all used O2 though.

  11. Anonymous John

    Now where's my tinfoil hat?

  12. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Power!

    If a Carrington Event hit us now there'd be a lot of problems.

    The really big transformers used in the cores of the US and EU power grids are likely to be wiped out. There are at least 100 of them, they take 2 years to build and there are only about a dozen spares worldwide.

    And then there's the actual CME to deal with. The damage listed above comes from the xray burst.

  13. Neil 38

    Finally, O2 have managed to deliver something EARLIER than promised.

  14. AndrewH
    Mushroom

    Chernobyl... Fukushima... and now this...

    When will they learn that nuclear poses too much of a hazard?! The sooner we can replace the sun with a renewable energy source, the better.

  15. regadpellagru
    Joke

    Protons vs. protons

    Just wondering if the folks at CERN wouldn't be able to deviate the 2 LHC beams and shoot a couple of bursts of protons to this, for good measure.

    Hey, could even be helpfull to find the Higgs boson !

  16. vmistery
    WTF?

    Don't believe them! Its the Triffids! Or possibly I have been watching too much TV?You decide!

  17. CraigW

    Weather

    Well at least this summer might heat up a bit at last.

    1. Andrew_b65
      Thumb Up

      Re: Weather

      Maybe it'll give the Jetsteam a kick up the ass and send it packing up to Greenland where it belongs so we can at least have a few weeks of summer instead of this incessant rain? It's even driving my cats nuts. And they look at me like I'm the one causing the rain.

      1. MrT
        Coat

        Re: driving my cats nuts

        Man with a car steering wheel sticking out of his trouser zip walks into a doctor's surgery.

        " Doctor, can you do something about this - it's driving me nuts..."

        Play me off, Johnny....

      2. Andrew_b65

        Re: Weather

        Yup, right on cue the weather guys are now saying that the jetstream has finally stopped howling over the UK and is moving north allowing the Azores high to expand and let us in on a bit of that southern European summer weather at last.

        If I recall correctly, the last mega CME was back in March before which we were all expecting a great summer with temperatures already being unseasonably high. Things turned noticeably wetter and cooler following the last 'event'. Perhaps there is something in it?

  18. MooseNC
    FAIL

    Aurora?

    You can't see the aurora during the summer up north...

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Aurora?

      On the other hand, people in the high (or low?) latitudes of the southern hemisphere, like at Cape Town, should be able to see the fireworks.

  19. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    No wonder my car radio was misbehaving yesterday.

    Sluggardly CME. A day and a half to cross the Earth-Sun distance? In my day it'd have been all over and done with in minutes. And it would have been worth turning out for. Get in car. Twiddle knobs trying to find usual station in unusual static. Explode in cloud of incandescent vapor all over the driveway. Job done.

    Today's charged particles. Tch!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Target

    mmmmm.... seems like EVERY solar flare recently is "coming right at us" is that just unlucky or is Sol deliberately targetting us?

  21. davidp231
    Facepalm

    Solar flare comments

    And not one BoFH Excuse Calendar reference?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boffinry

    Flares went out in the late 70s, along with bushy sideburns, platform boots, long hair and the porn-tache. Calling them "CMEs" ain't gonna bring them back.

  23. Mike Flugennock
    Mushroom

    I'm surprised the Drudge Report...

    ...hasn't ripped out its entire page and replaced it with that dumb-assed animated spinning police light .gif with a monstrous headline reading ZOMG IT'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!!!!11!!!1!!!11!!!!1 as it does every time an asteroid passes within so much as a million miles of Earth.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: I'm surprised the Drudge Report...

      Kill it with Coronal Mass Ejections!

  24. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Crazy Good v Mad Bad ........ Ultimate Battle Groups at the XSSXXXXPeditionary Front

    Thanks for that confirmation, El Regers ..... there's more crazies outside and free than are inside and detained. :-) And some/many/most of them are far too clever to ever be stupid enough to be badly programmmed with mindless nonsense/celebrity drivel/political piffle.

    Interesting days ahead for Intelligence Communities ...... with myriad enterprising opportunities to exploit with secure protection against vulnerabilities in Operating System Fails ..... Virtual Machine Crashes.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course now this one has cleared the way

    If another X-class (say X-33 just to make things interesting) explodes shortly from AR1520 then we could be in for a possible S-5 event.

    Contrary to popular belief fibre-optics are vulnerable to solar flares, thanks to the amplifiers used needing electrical power.

    AC/DC

  26. Snar

    So if the sun is so active, why is it always sodding raining (joke!)

    Solar activity has really had a big impact on HF comms over the last week - NVIS (Near Vertical Incident Skywave) used for National HF comms has really taken a beating....

  27. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    So far so good... So far so good...

    <click> Brrrrrrrrrr

  28. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Well, another sodding astronomical anti climax for the uk.....

  29. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Well, wadaya no, we're all still here.

  30. DEAD4EVER
    Meh

    omg could it be the end

    OK not so much on Saturday but more the 21st of December 2012 could this be a sign the world will end either the sun exploding sending a massive fire on earth wiping out everything and everyone or is it just sending flares because its get ten to hot or is it just normal sending flares off the sun. the thing is no one knows because you don't know what the future contains eh none of us do, i mean us man earth could end at anytime and there wouldn't be anything we could do about it. some are saying the earth will fall into a black hole others say the sun will do something to end us others are saying zombies really seriously.

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