The British Royal Academy of Engineering has completed a study of the UK power grid showing that it is relatively well prepared to weather a solar superstorm–but the opposite is true in the United States.

It turns out that explosive eruptions of energy from the sun are fairly common. In BBC News, Jonathan Amos quotes the UK study as saying that If a solar superstorm struck the Earth, the effects on the UK would be "challenging but not cataclysmic."

He quotes space engineer Keith Ryden as saying, "Fortunately, satellites are already designed to deal with a lot of this space weather."
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On January 4, the sun produced the most complex coronal mass ejection since the one seen by an international solar observatory six years ago. The eruption looked like a twisting assemblage of bright patches and unleashed billions of tons of particles at speeds of about 2.2 million mph.

The sun?s magnetic field lines were responsible for the intricate burst of energy, according to Paal Brekke, a scientist with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency. ?The complexity and structure … amazed even experienced solar physicists at the SOHO operations center,? he says. ?It shows lots of structures, lots of filaments. They get twisted up like rubber bands and sometimes they can just snap.?
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