CME attack threatens Earth with DANGEROUS solar storm, shows NASA SOHO; 1-2 punch likely | Tech News

CME attack threatens Earth with DANGEROUS solar storm, shows NASA SOHO; 1-2 punch likely

Two Earth-directed CMEs have been detected by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. They are expected to hit the Earth on July 7 and can spark a powerful solar storm. Check details.

| Updated on: Jul 05 2023, 14:54 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
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1/5 The Sun is the largest object in our solar system and is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of the solar system. It is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest bits of debris in orbit around it. The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The Sun’s activity, from its powerful eruptions to the steady stream of charged particles it sends out, influences the nature of space throughout the solar system. (NASA)
Solar storm
3/5 According to NASA, measuring a “day” on the Sun is complicated because of the way it rotates. It doesn't spin as a single, solid ball. This is because the Sun’s surface isn't solid like Earth's. Instead, the Sun is made of super-hot, electrically charged gas called plasma. This plasma rotates at different speeds on different parts of the Sun. At its equator, the Sun completes one rotation in 25 Earth days. At its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days. (NASA)
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4/5 Above the Sun’s surface are its thin chromosphere and the huge corona (crown). This is where we see features such as solar prominences, flares, and coronal mass ejections. The latter two are giant explosions of energy and particles that can reach Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
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Know all about the probable solar storm that can hit the Earth on July 7. (Pixabay)

After an amazing sunspot-filled June, July appears set to continue the trend of extreme solar volatility. We have already seen a radio blackout this month after a solar flare erupted on the notorious sunspot AR3554. Now, two separate coronal mass ejections (CME) have been released from the Sun and they are both partly Earth-directed, as per data from NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. This means that both will graze the Earth and spark solar storm events. And to make matters worse, it is expected that the second CME will catch up to the first, delivering two successive CME hits and amplifying the overall intensity of the solar storm.

Dr. Tamitha Skov, a space weather physicist, said in a tweet, “Our #Sun celebrates #July4 with its own special fireworks! We have two partly Earth-directed #solarstorms (aka CMEs) on their way. The second storm will catch up to the first giving us a 1,2-punch. Model predictions show impact likely July 7. I'll post NASA model runs next”.

Solar storm to strike the Earth on July 7

While partial CME strikes have not been known to cause powerful solar storms, this particular incident is concerning because of the two back-to-back CME impacts. The end effect is going to be amplified and as a result, the eventual storm can be terrifyingly intense.

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It cannot be said at the moment whether it can produce a G5-class geomagnetic storm, but the intensity of the storm can be strong enough to damage small satellites, disrupt wireless communications such as GPS, low-frequency radio waves, and mobile networks, and even fluctuate power grids that can further damage any electronic devices that need to be attached to a power source.

Further, in the worst-case scenario, such storms can also damage internet connectivity as well as sensitive ground-based electronics such as pacemakers.

The tech that enables NASA SOHO

NASA's SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) is a satellite that was launched on December 2, 1995. 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 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.

NASA tracks solar storm events to ensure there is a forewarning given to everyone concerned about the likely area of impact and its severity.

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First Published Date: 05 Jul, 14:52 IST