Cannibal CME is headed for the Earth today; Can spark a STRONG solar storm, says NOAA

Two CMEs have been released by the Sun, NOOA says. The one that was released later has caught up with the one before it and cannibalised it. This cannibal CME will hit the Earth today, August 8, and cause a strong solar storm event.

| Updated on: Aug 08 2023, 11:20 IST
Solar storms that plagued the Earth this week: Massive solar flare eruption, 2 CME strikes, more
Solar storm
1/5 The week began with a minor solar storm incident on Monday, when aurora displays were seen in some high-latitude areas. The solar activity didn't stop there as another new sunspot, AR3363, that appeared to be crackling with solar flares also began moving towards Earth's view. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
2/5 The very next day, the unstable region on Sun began exploding. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a massive M6-class solar flare that kept erupting for a long duration. Reportedly, it released more energy than some X-class flares. This sparked a planet-wide shortwave radio blackout. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
3/5 On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prediction models confirmed that a fast-moving coronal mass ejection (CME) released during the flare eruption, and it was set to deliver a glancing blow to the Earth.  (NASA)
Solar storm
4/5 NOAA declared a 3-day warning for solar storms as it confirmed that yet another CME cloud is also headed for our planet and can impact the magnetosphere on July 22. The first CME was expected to strike on Friday, July 21. (NASA SDO)
Solar storm
5/5 On Friday, the first of two CME struck the Earth, delivering the second minor solar storm for the week. The second CME was expected to strike by July 22 and intensify the first ongoing storm. The resultant effect has been forecasted to even spark a G3-class geomagnetic storm. Now, the weekend appears to be a quiet one, as no further solar activity is expected. But with multiple new sunspots expected to come to the Earth's view over the weekend, the next week can be even more chaotic. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
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Know all about the solar storm that is expected to hit the Earth later today, August 8. (NASA)

The X1.6-class solar flare that released two powerful coronal mass ejections (CME) on August 5, has just become even more terrifying. According to a new NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) model, the two CME clouds have merged, with the second, faster one, overtaking and cannibalizing the first. The result is that the merged entity has become even more powerful. Even a glancing blow from such a cloud can spark a vicious solar storm. The latest forecast says the storm will hit the Earth later today, August 8, and can produce G3-class storms.

Details around the incoming solar storm

According to a report by, “A new NOAA model shows the two CMEs leaving the sun on Aug. 5th, then merging to form a single 'cannibal CME' that delivers a glancing blow to Earth on Aug. 8th. Cannibal CMEs are famous for causing strong geomagnetic storms, and even a glancing blow can be effective. In this case, storm levels could reach category G2 (Moderate) with a slight chance of escalating to G3 (Strong)”.

At the moment, it is not confirmed whether the hit will be a head-on collision or a glancing blow. But researchers are keeping a close eye on the cloud to understand the condition.

A full-force strike can damage small satellites, impact mobile networks, and GPS, and even pose a threat to ground-based electronics and power grids by increasing the magnetic potential by huge amounts.

What is a cannibal CME

Cannibal coronal mass ejections (CME) take place when speeding solar eruptions overtake earlier eruptions in the same region of space, combining with the charged particles to form a giant, combined wavefront that triggers a powerful geomagnetic storm. This always has a higher electromagnetic output and can cause significant damage to satellites and communication systems.

More danger lurks on the horizon

Even after the solar storm passes over, things are not going to be quiet for our planet. A departing sunspot called AR3386 has exploded creating a powerful X1-class solar flare yesterday, August 7. The extreme ultraviolet flash caused a shortwave radio blackout on the planet. It is unclear at the moment whether the CME released during the flare eruption will strike the Earth.

How NASA SOHO watches the Sun

NASA's SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) is a  space satellite that was launched on December 2, 1995, to observe the Sun. It is a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the sun, its atmosphere, and its effects on the solar system. Equipped with 12 scientific instruments, such as an Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT), Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI), LASCO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph), and others, SOHO captures images of the sun's corona, measures the velocity and magnetic fields of the sun's surface, and observes the faint corona around the Sun.

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First Published Date: 08 Aug, 10:52 IST