Danger! Volatile sun hurls massive solar storm towards Earth | Tech News

Danger! Volatile sun hurls massive solar storm towards Earth

NOAA forecasters have warned about a solar storm which could hit Earth soon.

| Updated on: Jan 16 2023, 09:49 IST
6 TERRIFYING solar storms that blasted Earth in 2022
Solar storm
1/6 On June 29, a surprise solar storm struck the Earth. The solar storm was not caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) but by a corotating interaction region (CIR), which opened a hole in the Earth's magnetosphere. It was a G1-class solar storm which is capable of causing shortwave radio blackouts and GPS disruptions. Interestingly, it coincided with the rare five planet alignment event.  (NASA)
Solar storm
2/6 Extremely rare pink auroras could be seen on November 3 near Greenland, after a G1-class solar storm slammed into the Earth. Solar storms usually give a greenish hue due to ionizing of Oxygen atoms. However, the CME in this case was able to reach the lower strata of the atmosphere which ionized Nitrogen atoms and gave off the rare pink aura.  (Representative Photo) (Pixabay)
Solar storm
3/6 On November 6, a powerful solar flare which was estimated to be an X-class solar flare caused temporary radio blackouts in Australia and New Zealand. The resultant solar storm blocked all high frequency radio waves making it hard for various emergency services and airlines that use radio communications to operate for multiple hours.  (Pixabay)
Solar storm
4/6 On August 7 and 8, a mysterious phenomenon was seen after a solar storm strike which scientists call STEVE (strong thermal emission velocity enhancement). A gigantic ribbon of purple light followed by a wave of green light could be seen in many parts of North America.   (@KaniskiDylan / Twitter)
Solar storm
5/6 A rare double solar storm attack was seen on March 14 when a G2-class solar storm was quickly followed up with another G1-class solar storm. Scientists believe that such multiple solar storm attacks are going to be more frequent in coming days as the Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
6/6 On October 25, the Sun seemed to beam a smile at Earth even as it spewed a stream of dangerous solar particles towards our planet. Multiple dark regions popped up on the Sun that gave an uncanny impression of a smiley face. The resultant solar storm from the event was noted to be a G2-class which is so strong that it is capable of causing fluctuations in electricity grids on Earth.  (SDO/AIA)
Solar storm
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Know more about the danger faced by Earth due to a CME which could hit soon. (NASA)

The Sun is currently near the peak of its 11-year solar cycle, which has resulted in frequent solar flares and coronal mass ejections. As the cycle ends, the frequency of these phenomena will decrease. Scientists have been monitoring the sun for signs of increased activity, and have issued a solar storm warning. A minor G-1 class geomagnetic storm impacted the planet just yesterday and we could now see a solar flare emerging from the Sun that could spew out a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) which could hit the planet soon.

NOAA forecasters have revealed that a M4 - class solar flare erupted from the Sun on January 14 which left dark plasma on the canopy of Sunspot AR3182. This debris has carved a path for escape through the Sun's atmosphere and is hurtling towards Earth. The CME could hit the Earth's magnetic field on January 19.

The NOAA report said,” A twist of dark plasma left the sun on Jan. 14th, propelled by a double-dip M4-class solar flare in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR3182. The debris carved a spiraling path through the sun's atmosphere, a blender-like process that hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. NOAA analysts say the CME could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 19th.”

Just yesterday, a geomagnetic storm hit the Earth. Thankfully, it was a minor storm and was classified as a G-1 class storm. What's shocking about this storm is its approach. Instead of coming in all guns-blazing, this geomagnetic storm arrived stealthily as it was embedded inside a co-moving solar wind stream, hiding some of its usual signatures.

As the CME has not yet hit the Earth, the extent of potential damage cannot be determined yet. However, it is a reminder of the power of the sun and the need for continued research and monitoring to better predict and prepare for these events in the future.

To achieve this, NASA has a mission in place to study the rising solar activity of the Sun. NASA's SunRISE mission, which stands for the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment, is an upcoming mission expected to launch in 2024 to study and pinpoint how giant bursts of energetic particles originate from the Sun and evolve as they expand outward into space.

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First Published Date: 16 Jan, 09:31 IST