BEWARE! In 3 days, even ordinary solar storms on Earth will have a Catastrophic effect

Solar storms in the next few days could have a violent impact on Earth. Know all about the Russell-McPherron effect.

| Updated on: Sep 21 2022, 11:37 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
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1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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Know why solar storms striking the Earth are going to turn terrifyingly violent over the next three days. (Pixabay)

The Earth has increasingly been dealing with the onslaught of solar storms since 2022 began. Some of the solar storms we have experienced were quite devastating. Elon Musk led SpaceX faced the brunt of it when more than 40 Starlink satellites were destroyed in a solar storm event earlier this year. We have also seen multiple radio blackouts and GPS disruptions. But now, things are going to turn even more frightening. In the next three days, the Earth's main line-of-defense against solar storms — the magnetosphere — is going to grow weaker, letting even the weak solar storms cause chaos on Earth. But why will this happen and what could be the impact of it? Read on to find out.

Solar storms to have a terrifying effect as the Earth's defense grows weaker

According to a report by, Tromso, Norway, experienced an extreme auroral event yesterday, September 20. Markus Varik, an aurora tour guide and the witness to the incident said that the aurora lights were moving in all kinds of directions including “swirls, spikes, curtains, draperies” and more. While surprising, this was not unexpected.

The period around equinox is considered to be the best time to see an aurora. This happens because of a peculiar phenomenon called Russell-McPherron effect. In simple words, around the equinox, the Earth's magnetosphere begins to develop cracks all over it. This allows even minor solar winds to enter the Earth's atmosphere and display auroras. And the autumnal equinox is just three days away.

However, the generally harmless phenomenon that lets people view these fantastic lights is a very scary proposition. With the Sun inching closer to its solar maximum phase, solar storms have been bombarding the planet left and right. Some of these storms have even reached G3-class in intensity. With the main line of Earth's defenses being down, these solar storms can become extremely destructive. Events like the Starlink satellites burning down can again happen and worse this time.

The Earth can see massive damage to satellites in the lower orbit, a major disruption to GPS on which the majority of transportation depends. Mobile network and internet services will not be spared either. And worst still, the power grids on Earth can get damaged and shut down. If this happens, the Earth will be a cold, dark and disconnected place, just like the dark ages.

The tech that keeps an eye out for the solar storm

A geostationary satellite by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called GOES-16 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites) has an instrument equipped which is called EXIS (Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensor). Due to its high radiation tolerance, it can work across the hours and even when something extremely light sensitive happens on the Sun. Due to this, it is a very effective instrument to forecast space weather, solar flare eruptions and solar storm warnings.

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First Published Date: 21 Sep, 11:37 IST
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