'Cannibal' explosion on the sun could disrupt GPS systems on Earth this week

A huge explosion on the Sun is hurling billions of tons of plasma and particles across space towards Earth — and is expected to hit on Thursday.

The 'cannibal' coronal mass ejection, so called because it has already absorbed a previous flare from the day before, was fired from the surface of the Sun on Monday (August 15), according to experts from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Observers from the independent alert service Spaceweather.com have since predicted that the solar storm originating from the active sunspot AR3078 could cause disruption to important GPS navigation systems on Thursday (August 18).

'Cannibal' explosion on the sun could disrupt GPS systems on Earth this week

The solar flare has been described as 'cannibal' as it has absorbed another ejection from the day before

This is because the sunspot has been noted to show signs of a powerful magnetic field which can penetrate the Earth's ionosphere, which is used to 'bounce' signals across the planet.

It is also thought the ejection may potentially impact the power grid.

Describing meanwhile how their agency will monitor the solar storm, a statement from NOAA read: “When the CME approaches Earth, NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite will be among the first spacecraft to detect the real-time solar wind changes and SWPC forecasters will issue any appropriate warnings. 

'Cannibal' explosion on the sun could disrupt GPS systems on Earth this week

The NOAA says their satellites will 'issue any appropriate warnings' once the solar storm hits Earth ( Image: AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

“Impacts to our technology from a G2 storm are generally nominal.”

They added that solar storm may also mean aurora would be visible in regions further to the south of North America than usual “if other factors come together”, including the far Northeast, to the far upper Midwest, across portions of the north-central states, and “perhaps” the northwest section of Washington state.’

'Cannibal' explosion on the sun could disrupt GPS systems on Earth this week

The latest warning follows a flurry of activity on the sun's outer layer ( Image: www.spaceweather.com)

The latest warning follows a series of ejections that have come as the Sun approaches a 11-year high of expulsions from its outer layer, called the corona.

Such phenomena are caused by a mass ejection of particles from the star, which then travel through the atmosphere with the potential to collide with whatever is in its path.

In 1989, a strong solar eruption shot so many electrically charged particles at Earth that the Canadian Province of Quebec lost power for nine hours.

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