Storm fronts — especially surprise storm fronts — are a popular Sci-Fi trope. Ion storms and radiation storms and neutronic storms and they invariably look 2D, like ribbons in space. But then I read this article about nearby supernovas millions of years ago that showered our planet with radioactive debris and remembered that we've seen the increase in light as the photons from these massive explosions arrived at our planet.
And it got me wondering — how many such "wave fronts" might exist out there that we don't know about because the light hasn't reached us yet1 and how might that affect space travel? So...
Given that we're using technology only moderately better than today's space shuttles, save that we have engines that let us move the intragalactic mail.2
Given that we do not have electromagnetic shielding (whatever solid material known to humanity today that rests between the crew and the vacuum of space is all we have to work with).
Given that those wave fronts (aka, "storms") are spherical in nature.3
Accepting the fact that some storms emanated from very distant explosions while others are much "younger" in nature.4
And noting that a "navigational hazard" is anything from interfering with the ship's electronics to killing the crew.
Question: Do these natural storms in space pose, on average, enough risk to our intrepid crew that they represent viable navigational hazards deserving of being charted and monitored?
1 Or that have already passed us. Ships leaving our system would eventually catch up to the storm fronts that affected our planet millions of years ago — from the back side. Some fronts chase us, others we chase.
2 On a galactic scale, we've moved through space not at all at an inconsequential crawl. When we start moving vast distances at near-c/FTL speeds, we might discover storms like this are as common as rain. I'm certainly no expert on the Sci-Fi front (I read as much as I can, but I wouldn't dare claim to have read more than a fraction of what's out there), but I've never encountered this idea before in the literature. Has anyone?
3 Though supernovas are obviously the most likely candidates for a true "storm in space" representing a trackable navigational hazard, the ejecta from a number of objects may be as big a deal in different ways. For example, a supernova creates a spherical shell of matter and radiation that increases forever but has a definable thickness, a pulsar has a less dramatic output that's a constant flow, a conical stream in 3D.
4 The most dramatic storm I can think of would be the explosion of a galactic core black hole. I have no idea if this is even theoretically possible, but let's run with it. While such an explosion would be spherical in nature (and dangerous in its own right), it would also be strong enough to push the planets (both destroyed and intact) of the galaxy outward in an ever-expanding band (combined with their existing motion, the expansion would be reminiscent of pouring paint on a spinning board). That's as close to a 2D storm front as I can get, and the natural rate of expansion would probably make it no different than any other storm front the ship encountered. But it's cool to think about.