On May 23rd, 1967, the United States Air Force scrambled to ready nuclear missile-laden aircraft for deployment. Radar systems designed to detect incoming Soviet missiles had just been disrupted, in what the military perceived to be an act of war. But before any nukes were launched in retaliation, it seems Air Force…
If you want to see beautiful auroras, forget Alaska, Canada, and Iceland—check out Jupiter. At the gas giant’s north pole, the most powerful and luminous northern lights in the solar system shimmer and glow in an endless geomagnetic storm that’s larger than our entire planet.
If a massive solar storm struck the Earth today, it could wipe out our technology and hurl us back to the dark ages. Lucky for us, events like this are quite rare. But four billion years ago, extreme space weather was probably the norm. And rather than bringing the apocalypse, it might have kickstarted life.
For the first time, physicists have observed a mysterious process called magnetic reconnection—wherein opposing magnetic field lines join up, releasing a tremendous burst of energy. The discovery, published today in Science, may help us unlock the secrets of space weather and learn about some of the weirdest, most…
A team of scientists has created a new, high-resolution model of the complex magnetic activity on the surface of the Sun. The result is as spellbinding as it is terrifying. Gaze into the roiling ball of plasma that supports everything you hold dear, and feel your sanity slip away.
If you were soaring through Jupiter’s turbid skies wearing a pair of x-ray goggles, you might get lucky and witness something incredible. Brilliant flashes of light, more luminous and powerful than the Sun, occurring every 26 minutes and stretching as far as the eye can see. That’s the essence of a massive solar storm…
New Horizons returned some amazingly detailed shots and data of Pluto over the course of its mission—but just what did it have to fly through to get there? So, so much.
Astronomers have measured and mapped a weather system on a planet outside our solar system for the first time, and I’m sad to report that interstellar camping trips maaaay not be so much fun after all. On planet HD 189733b, at least, the winds are blowing at a breathtaking 5,400 miles per hour.
The aurora borealis is one of the most stunning light shows on Earth, but normally, it’s a treat reserved for the hardy souls living at the coldest edges of the world. The last few nights, however, people across the Northern and Southern hemispheres have enjoyed dazzling, colorful skies, thanks to a geomagnetic storm…
We’re all too familiar with the dangers posed by earthquakes, droughts, and hurricanes. But there’s another natural phenomena that represents a growing threat to our tech-driven society, and that’s space weather. And at long last, the US government seems to be taking the issue seriously.
Hurricanes and blizzards are petty trifles compared with the weather phenomenon that troubles apocalypse preppers: They’re worried about a giant electromagnetic storm wiping out all technology.
We all know that major storms can wreak havoc, flooding cities and decimating infrastructure. But there’s an even bigger worry than wind and rain: space weather. If a massive solar storm hit us, our technology would be wiped out. The entire planet could go dark.
Curiosity, our favorite little Martian space robot that could, has a new line item to add to its resume: weather-robot.
The aurora borealis that took place on St. Patrick's day was spectacular, but aside from being the strongest geomagnetic storm in a decade, there's another reason it was special. It was the first time that thousands of citizen scientists tweeted about the aurora to help space weather scientists construct a…
This morning, astronomers observed an incredibly powerful x-class solar flare erupting from the sun, only to be surprised by what they saw happen just about an hour later: a second x-class flare.
Millions of charged particles are rushing toward earth after a gigantic solar flare on Tuesday. Bad news for NASA's latest mission, but good news for sky-watchers: Those charged particles also collide with the earth's atmosphere to produce the ethereal-looking northern lights.
The UK government has announced plans to fund a new 24/7 space-weather forecasting service. As Elizabeth Gibney of Nature News reports, the Met Office warnings will protect satellites and help prevent blackouts on Earth. At a cost of £4.6-million ($7.5-million), the service could also warn of an incoming Carrington…
With all the exciting solar activity lately, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center shared this helpful tutorial about the vocabulary of space weather on their Facebook page. Now you can tell your CMEs apart from your solar flares.
It's decently likely that, sometime in the future, a major solar storm will hit Earth, wreaking havoc on our infrastructure and crippling our satellites. But there's a more long-term danger: space could become too dangerously radioactive to stay there.
A brown dwarf located 47 light-years away is behaving very strangely. The would-be star's brightness is constantly changing, fluctuating by as much as 30% in just eight hours. This could be an atmospheric disturbance that dwarfs Jupiter's Great Red Spot.