Solar storms occur when the sun emits huge bursts of energy in the form of solar flares – some as powerful as billions of nuclear bombs – which then send forth a stream of electrical charges and magnetic fields toward the Earth at speeds of around three million miles per hour.
At the moment one of these solar flares is hurtling towards the Earth and could lead to a rare opportunity for people to view the Northern Lights – also known as the Aurora Borealis – in the skies above Scotland on Sunday night.
The flare is expected to produce geomagnetic storms when it hits our planet late on Sunday or early Monday morning, making it possible to spot the spectacular sight – and cloud cover is forecast as relatively minimal overnight, making it even easier to catch the light show.
According to the Met Office, satellite images showed the flare – also known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME – leaving the sun on Saturday.
The Met Office stated: “The large CME has been analysed and is expected to have an Earth directed component, which is expected to arrive either late on March 13 or early March 14.”
Warnings have been issued the storm could interfere with amateur radio and GPS systems, which are most likely to be affected near dawn and dusk.