Friday the 13th is known for hockey-masked killers and bad luck, but this year there might be a bigger problem.
The sun has had three big solar flares within two days, the latest of which happened early Wednesday. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the flares have given us earthlings some communication problems.
The flares created a “coronal mass ejection,” namely, a huge cloud of plasma that could hit Friday and cause a shock wave, affecting communications and GPS systems again. According to the NOAA, if an ejection were to hit Earth, scientists expect it would only cause a minor geo-magnetic storm.
A solar flare happens when an explosion of gas and radiation erupts from the surface of the sun. The radiation is not strong enough to physically harm humans, but can affect a lot of other electronics such as cell phones, making calls come in and out.
According to NASA, the intensity of the first flare was classified as an X2.2 flare and peaked at 7:41 a.m. on Tuesday. X-class flares are the most intense, and the numbers describe its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, and so forth.
The second X-class flare peaked at 8:52 a.m. on Tuesday, classified as an X1.5 flare. The third one was an X1 flare and peaked at 5:06 a.m. on Wednesday.
The flare impacted big parts of sunlit side of Earth, being strongest at the poles. It knocked out radio communication for about an hour.