Solar storm likely to hit Earth today; Here’s all you need to know

Solar Storm (Twitter)

A solar storm is likely to hit Earth today ie 3 August as a ‘hole’ in the Sun’s atmosphere is releasing gaseous materials which combined with a stream of strong solar winds, might result in a minor G1-class solar storm.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters has notified in its bulletin that there is a slight chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms today as Earth enters a high-speed stream of solar wind.

The gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun’s atmosphere.

What is a geomagnetic storm?

As per NASA, the Earth’s magnetosphere is created by our magnetic field and protects us from most of the particles the sun emits. When a CME or high-speed stream arrives at Earth it buffets the magnetosphere. If the arriving solar magnetic field is directed southward it interacts strongly with the oppositely oriented magnetic field of the Earth. The Earth’s magnetic field is then peeled open like an onion allowing energetic solar wind particles to stream down the field lines to hit the atmosphere over the poles. At the Earth’s surface a magnetic storm is seen as a rapid drop in the Earth’s magnetic field strength. This decrease lasts about 6 to 12 hours, after which the magnetic field gradually recovers over a period of several days.

Impact of G1-class geomagnetic storms:

G-1 class geomagnetic storms are considered to be ‘harmless’. However, they could result in power grid failures, minor disruption in satellite function and impact migratory animals. A more pleasant outcome of these solar storms is the aurora or Northern Lights.

This geomagnetic storm is expected to form auroras in the skies over Canada and Alaska.

As the sun approaches the peak activity phase of its 11-year solar cycle, it seems like it is gearing up for the explosive activity. And even as we assume that the distance between Sun and the Earth is much and hence, there will be no impact on our planet. Then we couldn’t be more wrong.

Despite this enormous distance, our large ball of fire can shoot out flares and coronal mass ejections that could significantly affect our planet. And this week, we have another possible flare coming our way!

At around 2309 UTC last Sunday (4:39 am IST on Monday), Earth-orbiting satellites detected an explosion in the Sun’s northeastern region and a long-lasting eruption of a C9.3-class solar flare.

“The intensity is probably an underestimate because it was partially eclipsed by the edge of the Sun. Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) saw hot debris flying away from the blast site,”, which tracks solar activity, stated. And while the explosion was pretty powerful, experts suspect that the Earth was not the Sun’s target this time.

“The explosion is significant because it may herald an active region set to emerge over the Sun’s northeastern limb later this week. A new sunspot group could bring an end to weeks of relative quiet,” reported.

The frequency of solar flare is set to increase in coming years as Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle ie likely by 2025.

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