Science

The solar flare that streaked across Earth this morning could trigger geomagnetic storms over the next few hours

Above - NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of a long-duration solar flare on June 13, 2022. It lasted eight hours and caused radio blackouts in Japan and Southeast Asia. East.  Below - A view of the CME as it erupted from the sun following the solar flare.  This was recorded by the LASCO C3 external coronagraph aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).  The white circle in the middle indicates the position and size of the Sun
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A solar flare that passed by Earth this morning could trigger minor geomagnetic storms for days, scientists have warned.

The Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) delivered a “shock” to our planet at 12:37 a.m. ET (4:37 a.m. BST) on Wednesday.

Experts predict that the effects of the CME, which could include power outages, could be felt in the hours to come.

CMEs are large clouds of energetic, highly magnetized plasma that shoot out from the sun.

They can be triggered when a thunderstorm on the surface of the sun causes a vortex to form at the base of plasma loops projecting from the surface.

These loops are called prominences and when they become unstable they can rupture, releasing the CME into space.

Today’s eruption is the result of a particularly slow solar flare recorded on Monday, which lasted eight hours and caused temporary radio outages over Japan and Southeast Asia.

Above – NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of a long-lasting solar flare on June 13, 2022. It lasted eight hours and caused radio blackouts in Japan and Southeast Asia. Below – A view of the CME as it erupted from the sun following the solar flare. This was recorded by the LASCO C3 external coronagraph aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The white circle in the middle indicates the position and size of the Sun

WHAT ARE CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS?

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are large clouds of energetic, highly magnetized plasma that erupt from the sun

These clouds can burst in any direction and then continue in that direction, plowing through the solar wind

These clouds only cause impacts on Earth when directed towards Earth

They tend to be much slower than solar flares because they move more material

CMEs can be triggered when a storm on the surface of the sun causes a vortex to form at the base of plasma loops projecting from the surface

These loops are called prominences and when they become unstable they can rupture, releasing the CME into space.

SpaceWeather.com astronomers recorded the explosion of growing sunspot AR3032 on Monday at 00:07 a.m. ET (04:07 a.m. BST).

The explosion produced a solar flare that lasted nearly eight hours from start to finish, and was registered as M3.4, placing it in the “medium” solar blast class.

The explosion’s extreme ultraviolet radiation ionized the upper part of our atmosphere, causing temporary radio outages over Japan and Southeast Asia.

Coronagraphs aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) also recorded a CME thrown into space by this solar flare in the early hours of the morning.

Analysts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have predicted that it could deliver a “devastating blow to our planet’s magnetosphere” today.

Spaceweather.com has since confirmed that the CME hit Earth’s magnetic field at 12:37 a.m. ET (4:37 a.m. BST) on June 15.

An update on their site said, “Storms may occur in the coming hours as Earth moves into the dense, magnetized flank of the CME.”

According to the MetOffice, minor G1 class storms are likely, with a chance of moderate G2 early this morning.

Geomagnetic activity is expected to subside later today, but the arrival of a high-velocity solar wind stream early tomorrow could push activity back to G1 storm levels.

A minor storm can confuse migrating animals that rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to find their way.

Moderate storms can cause voltage fluctuations and can even lead to power outages or damage to appliances and electrical wiring.

Satellites and other spacecraft are also at high risk of damage due to high levels of radiation.

MetOffice also said any auroras that occur following the CME would likely be confined to higher latitudes and reach Scotland in the early hours of the morning.

However, the short hours of darkness meant that aurora sightings would be limited, if not impossible.

A solar flare from the sun could bring a

A solar flare from the sun could ‘thunderbolt’ Earth and trigger minor geomagnetic storms, scientists have warned. Pictured is an image taken by the Solar Orbiter probe

The sun has been experiencing increased activity for the past few months and last month unleashed its most powerful solar flare in five years.

Our star appears to be entering a particularly active period in its 11-year activity cycle, which began in 2019 and is expected to peak in 2025.

But scientists fear increased activity from the sun could lead to potentially dangerous solar weather that could damage power grids, knock out satellites and harm astronauts and space equipment on the International Space Station.

CMEs only impact Earth when pointed in the direction of our planet, and tend to be much slower than solar flares because they move more material.

Flares and CMEs also have different effects on Earth.

The energy from an eruption can disrupt the area of ​​the atmosphere that radio waves pass through, which can cause temporary outages in navigation and communication signals.

On the other hand, CMEs have the power to jostle the Earth’s magnetic fields, creating currents that drive particles towards the Earth’s poles.

When these react with oxygen and nitrogen, they help create the Northern Lights, also known as the Northern and Southern Lights.

Additionally, magnetic shifts can affect a variety of human technologies, causing GPS coordinates to drift by a few meters and overloading power grids when power companies are unprepared.

There has been no extreme CME or solar flare in the modern world – the last was the Carrington event in 1859 – creating a geomagnetic storm with aurora appearing around the world, as well as fires at stations telegraphs.

SOLAR STORMS PRESENT A NECID DANGER TO ASTRONAUTS AND CAN DAMAGE SATELLITES

solar stormsor solar activity, can be divided into four main components that can have impacts on Earth:

  • solar flares: A large explosion in the atmosphere of the sun. These flares are made up of photons that travel directly from the site of the flare. Solar flares only impact the Earth when they occur on the side of the sun facing the Earth.
  • Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): Large clouds of plasma and magnetic field shooting out from the sun. These clouds can burst in any direction and then continue in that direction, plowing through the solar wind. These clouds only cause impacts on Earth when directed towards Earth.
  • High speed solar wind stream: These come from coronal holes on the sun, which form anywhere on the sun and usually only when closer to the solar equator do the winds hit the earth.
  • Solar energy particles: High-energy charged particles thought to be released primarily by shocks formed ahead of coronal mass ejections and solar flares. When a CME cloud passes through the solar wind, solar energetic particles can be produced and because they are charged, they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth. Only charged particles that follow the magnetic field lines that intersect the Earth will have an impact.

Although these may seem dangerous, astronauts are not in immediate danger from these phenomena due to the relatively low orbit of manned missions.

However, they must be concerned about cumulative exposure during spacewalks.

This photo shows the sun's coronal holes on an X-ray image.  The outer solar atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields which, when closed, can cause gas bubbles and magnetic fields to be released from the atmosphere suddenly and violently, called coronal mass ejections.

This photo shows the sun’s coronal holes on an X-ray image. The outer solar atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields which, when closed, can cause the atmosphere to be suddenly and violently released from bubbles or tongues of gas and magnetic fields called mass ejections. coronals.

Damage caused by solar storms

Solar flares can damage satellites and have a huge financial cost.

Charged particles can also threaten airlines by disrupting the Earth’s magnetic field.

Very large eruptions can even create currents in electrical networks and cut off energy supplies.

When coronal mass ejections hit Earth, they cause geomagnetic storms and enhanced aurora borealis.

They can disrupt radio waves, GPS coordinates and overload electrical systems.

A large influx of energy could flow into high voltage power grids and permanently damage transformers.

It could shut down businesses and homes around the world.

Source: NASA – Solar Storm and Space Weather

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