First CME strikes Earth, sparks a RAGING solar storm; second arriving soon
The first of the two expected CME struck the Earth in the late hours yesterday, sparking a solar storm. Now, the second one is expected to hit today, June 21, further intensifying the storm.
Yesterday, it was reported that two separate coronal mass ejections (CME) are set to strike the Earth between July 20-22, and the double solar storm produced as an effect could reach a high intensity. The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has confirmed that the first of the two CME clouds has struck our planet. As the solar storm rages on, the second CME is also expected to hit within a few hours.
According to a report by SpaceWeather.com, “A CME just hit Earth's magnetic field (July 20th at 1651 UT). This is the first of two CMEs forecasters have been tracking en route to Earth. The second should reach our planet tomorrow, July 21st”. The report also highlighted that the combined effect of these two CMEs can spark an intense geomagnetic storm with high-latitude auroras. In the worst-case scenario, the storm can even reach G3-class intensity.
Solar storm to intensify today
While the exact impact of the first CME strike is not known, the solar storm produced is believed to be a minor one. But that is no reason to rejoice, as the second one may hit at any time. And if additional solar winds also strike the magnetosphere during the same period, the end result may be a major G3-class geomagnetic storm.
Such storms can be potentially dangerous and can damage our technology infrastructure in multiple ways. They can disrupt GPS, hamper mobile networks and the internet, and even cause a massive power outage by corrupting the power grids. Even the electronic devices on Earth are not safe from malfunctioning.
Astronomers are continuing to track the CME to understand its intensity and know whether things can get further complicated than at present.
The role of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory
The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities. They include the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance, and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.
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