Earth just suffered the WORST solar storm in 6 years due to this terrifying triple whammy

On March 23, the worst solar storm event in 6 years was witnessed when a G4-class geomagnetic storm wreaked havoc on Earth. Today, it has left scientists scrambling to find the reasons.

| Updated on: Mar 25 2023, 11:32 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
solar storm
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)
image caption
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)
image caption
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)
image caption
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)
solar storm
View all Images
After suffering a G4-class geomagnetic storm, the worst solar storm event in 6 years, astronomers are trying to figure out what caused it. And there are three main culprits happening at the same time. (Pixabay)

The solar storm onslaught that began at the start of this year, reached a new milestone on Thursday night when a G4-class geomagnetic storm struck the planet. Today, it has left scientists scrambling to find the reasons that caused it. Scientists are trying to find out whether the storm damaged satellites, impacted GPS and mobile phone networks, internet cables or harmed the power grids. The Earth had already suffered a couple of G3-class storms recently, but this particular event was deemed to be the most intense in the last 6 years. The worst, and scariest, part is that no forecaster was able to pick up on this incident ahead of time. So, what caused one of the worst solar storms to strike the Earth and why was there no prediction of such a terrifying event? Find out.

According to a report by, “This remarkable and surprising storm began on March 23rd when magnetic fields in the space around Earth suddenly shifted. South-pointing magnetic fields can open a crack in Earth's magnetosphere and, indeed, that's what happened. Earth's "shields were down" for almost 24 hours, allowing solar wind to penetrate and the storm to build to category G4”.

What caused this solar storm

It should be noted that since space agencies were not able to predict the storm, they are not entirely sure on the reason that might have caused such a scary geomagnetic storm to penetrate the Earth's upper atmosphere. But based on previous reports and developments, it can be narrowed down to three reasons.

First is the vernal equinox. On March 21, the Earth entered its spring equinox, when the magnetic field lines of our planet are at their weakest. Second was the large coronal hole that opened up in the atmosphere of the Sun and sent huge amounts of solar winds to the Earth. It was expected to reach between March 23 and 24. And finally, an unexpected CME cloud passed near our planet. All three of these situations were taking place around the same time frame. So, when a CME cloud came to the Earth, likely the solar winds gave it that extra magnetic flux to cause a powerful geomagnetic storm. And with cracks opening in the Earth's magnetic field lines, the particles were easily able to penetrate into the upper atmosphere and cause the worst solar storm in six years.

The tech behind solar storm predictions

NOAA monitors the solar storms and Sun's behavior using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The different measurements are done on temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 25 Mar, 11:30 IST
keep up with tech