Dangerous solar storm to strike tomorrow as slow moving CME rushes towards Earth

A dangerous solar storm is being expected tomorrow, January 4, which is going to be caused by a slow-moving coronal mass ejection (CME) moving towards the Earth. Know how it affects us.

| Updated on: Jan 03 2023, 09:40 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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A solar storm can strike the Earth tomorrow, January 4. Know all about it. (Pixabay)

The new year has started with a flurry of solar storms thrown out by the Sun towards the Earth. After being struck with solar storms on both December 31 and January 1, it was reported that yet another solar storm was brewing on the Sun. And now, it is nearing close to our planet as researchers predict that the dangerous solar storm will reach Earth tomorrow, January 2. Interestingly, this solar storm will be caused by slow-moving coronal mass ejection (CME) particles which were released by the Sun on December 30. So, what could happen when this storm strikes the Earth? Read on to find out.

The development was reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on Jan. 4th when a slow-moving CME is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. It was hurled in our direction by an M3.7-class solar flare in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR3176 on Dec. 30th”. It should be noted that CME particles travel much slower compared to solar winds and that's why they take longer to reach the Earth.

Solar storm to strike the Earth tomorrow

According to the current prediction, the solar storm will be limited to G1-class, however, a rip in the planet's magnetosphere can amplify even the minor solar storms to a more intense form. At its current stage, not much is expected from these magnetic disturbances. Apart from aurora formation, they can often disrupt GPS systems and radio communication over the region with the highest concentration of the magnetic fields. This can lead to delays in flight and ship timings.

The strongest solar storms (which can be as high as G5-class) can damage satellites, impact mobile networks and internet connectivity as well as cause power grid failure. Although, healthwise, humans will not be directly impacted by the radiation, but the disruptions to emergency services and power outages at places of high importance like hospitals, can still cause a high number of deaths.

What is a CME solar storm

In simple terms, a CME-induced solar storm is a type of solar storm that is caused by solar particles striking the magnetosphere. There are many ways the Sun can cause a solar storm like effect on Earth. The most common among them are solar flare induced solar storms where the harsh radiation and magnetic charge from a solar flare eruption is hurled towards the Earth. Another is the CIR-activated solar storm. CIR (co-rotating interaction region) are the rips in the magnetosphere caused when solar winds with different speed or orientation approach the Earth at the same time. It weakens the magnetosphere temporarily, letting in more solar radiation than normal and causes solar storms.

In comparison, the CME storm is caused when a sunspot explodes and sends solar particles (plasma) along with high magnetic and radiation waves. The presence of solar particles slows down the speed and it generally takes the storm 48 hours or more to reach Earth. But once it reaches, it can have devastating effect.

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First Published Date: 03 Jan, 09:39 IST
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