BEWARE! Earth to get hammered by a dangerous solar storm today as CME clouds approach

A dangerous solar storm can strike the Earth today, April 12, after NOAA forecasters detected a coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud heading toward our planet. Know the possible consequences.

| Updated on: Apr 12 2023, 11:42 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
Solar storm
1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
Solar Flare
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
Coronal Mass Ejection or CME
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
Solar Particles
5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
Solar Storm
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Know all about the solar storm headed for the Earth today. (Pixabay)

Solar storms have returned this week. After a solar flare erupted on Tuesday which resulted in radio blackouts in Australia and the Indian Ocean region, today, April 12, the Earth is dealing with an incoming coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud. This particular CME cloud is not related to yesterday's eruption but a separate solar activity that took place on April 7. As per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters, it is likely to deliver glancing blows to our planet which can result in geomagnetic activity.

The development was reported by which noted on its website, “NOAA forecasters say that a CME might deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field today. It left the sun on April 7th, propelled an erupting filament of magnetism. Minor geomagnetic storms are possible if/when the CME arrives”.

Solar storm can strike the Earth today

The CME cloud came from a magnetic filament, also known as solar prominence, on the Sun. These are large plasma and magnetic field structures extending outward from the Sun's surface, often in a loop shape. What makes them different from a solar flare is that they can occur outside sunspots and are anchored to the Sun's surface. Prominences can extend thousands of kilometers and can release huge amounts of CME into space.

Luckily for us, the Earth is only expected to get side-swiped by the CME, and will not have to face the full brunt of it. A similar situation occurred yesterday when the Earth escaped the cloud entirely and did not suffer a solar storm. However, if a geomagnetic storm were to occur due to this, it can cause minor damage to satellites, disrupt GPS signals, and cause aurora display in higher latitudes.

Know how NOAA monitors the Sun

While many space agencies from NASA with its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) keep track of Sun-based weather phenomena, one that particularly stands out is the DSCOVR satellite by NOAA. The satellite became operational in 2016 and tracks different measurements of the Sun and its atmosphere including temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation, and frequency of the solar particles. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared.

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First Published Date: 12 Apr, 09:57 IST
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