'Cannibal' solar bursts headed straight for Earth may bring northern lights to the US

On this week's Cosmic Sense, a potential geomagnetic storm with some beautiful side effects.
Northern Lights
The Northern Lights Photo credit Getty Images

In the divided society we currently live in, you might wonder, what does anyone truly have in common? Though we all have differences, there’s one commonality that has prevailed for all of humanity: we are all floating on a rock, flying through outer space at over a million miles an hour.

Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology in the past century, we can observe much more of the universe than we ever thought possible.

The scale and sheer size of the universe make it impossible to truly learn everything, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Here's what's happening in space this week.

The Earth may experience a geomagnetic storm over the next week following a series of violent bursts from the Sun.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a series of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) began on August 14, and space forecasters predict the geomagnetic storm will reach the Earth between August 18 and August 19.

The solar flares headed for Earth are referred to as 'cannibal' CMEs because they were emitted in rapid succession, causing some of the larger flares to engulf the smaller ones.

Geomagnetic storms have the potential to disrupt power grids, radio, and navigation systems, according to NOAA. Luckily, Earth's atmosphere offers a layer of protection for most infrastructure on the surface.

Satellites in near-Earth orbit do not have the same protection, leaving them more vulnerable to damage.

Though the solar storm could cause a number of negative impacts, it may also give the U.S. a magnificent light show in the process.

NOAA says the geomagnetic storms could potentially drive the aurora borealis, commonly referred to as the northern lights, farther south than usual, even reaching some northern states.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images