JOHANNESBURG – South Africans can expect to have technology glitches on Friday due to solar flares.
The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) has warned that the sun has released two massive solar flares, the second of which is the strongest flare in over a decade.
According to Sansa, the burst of radiation was so intense, it caused high-frequency radio blackouts on the daytime side of Earth, affecting high-frequency communication over Africa, Europe, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The space agency said the solar flares were accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) and this could have an impact on technology.
Sansa spokesperson, Catherine Webster said the impact of the CME has sparked a strong (G3) geomagnetic storm.
She said consumers should expect calls being dropped, GPS errors, a disruptive DSTV signal, and disrupted internet connections.
“SANSA has issued alerts to power utilities to be on alert for geomagnetically induced currents which can impact our power grid,” added Webster.
The space agency, however, said the storm will subside over the next 24 hours.
Sansa said the storms did not pose a danger to humans.
The first flare erupted on Wednesday, measuring in at X 2.2. Another flare blasted off the Sun three hours later, measuring in at X 9.3 - the most powerful flare since 2005.
Solar flares are giant explosions on the surface of the sun that occur when twisted magnetic field lines suddenly snap and release massive amounts of electromagnetic energy. Five categories — A, B, C, M and X — are used to rank solar flares based on their intensity. A-Class flares are the weakest, while X-Class are the most energetic.
A CME is a large cloud of high energy particles ejected from the surface of the Sun when stored energy is suddenly released. When the magnetic field of a CME interacts with the Earth's magnetic field it causes a temporary disturbance know as a geomagnetic storm.