Geomagnetic storm alert! Dangerous CME hits Earth, causes Auroras | Tech News

Geomagnetic storm alert! Dangerous CME hits Earth, causes Auroras

A dangerous geomagnetic storm has hit Earth and caused visible, physical effects.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Feb 03 2023, 17:36 IST
Do all solar activities like solar storms, CME, impact Earth? This is what NASA says
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1/5 Sun is a source of energy and a lot of activities keep on happening on the fireball. But can Earth be impacted by solar activities? Before we tell you that, it is important to know what solar activity is? According to NASA, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, high-speed solar wind, and solar energetic particles are all forms of solar activity. All solar activity is driven by the solar magnetic field. (NASA)
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2/5 Solar flares impact Earth only when they occur on the side of the sun facing Earth. Because flares are made of photons, they travel out directly from the flare site, so if we can see the flare, we can be impacted by it. (Pixabay)
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3/5 Coronal mass ejections, also called CMEs, are large clouds of plasma and magnetic field that erupt from the sun. These clouds can erupt in any direction, and then continue on in that direction, plowing right through the solar wind. Only when the cloud is aimed at Earth will the CME hit Earth and therefore cause impacts. (NASA)
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4/5 High-speed solar wind streams come from areas on the sun known as coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the sun and usually, only when they are closer to the solar equator, do the winds they produce impact Earth. (NASA)
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5/5 Solar energetic particles are high-energy charged particles, primarily thought to be released by shocks formed at the front of coronal mass ejections and solar flares. When a CME cloud plows through the solar wind, high velocity solar energetic particles can be produced and because they are charged, they must follow the magnetic field lines that pervade the space between the Sun and the Earth. Therefore, only the charged particles that follow magnetic field lines that intersect the Earth will result in impacts. (NASA)
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Sparkling auroras were visible in the Arctic sky. (Marianne Bergli)

Whenever solar activity rises, huge bubbles of coronal plasma are ejected, threaded by magnetic field lines over the course of several hours. According to NASA, CMEs often look like twisted rope, known as ‘flux rope'. A large CME can contain a billion tons of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour in a spectacular explosion. This solar material streams out through the interplanetary medium, impacting any planet or spacecraft in its path. Although this solar activity might seem harmless due to the distance of the Sun from our planet, they can cause major damage.

Spaceweather.com reported that a CME hit Earth just days ago! When these solar particles reach Earth, they can interact with the Earth's magnetic field and cause it to fluctuate. According to the report, it was a weak CME impact which resulted in the formation of auroras in the Arctic circle. Moreover, it caused a 10 nanoTesla jolt in magnetometer readings recorded from Canberra, Australia.

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The report said, ”An unexpected CME hit Earth's magnetic field on Feb. 1st at 18:54 UTC, causing a 10 nanoTesla jolt in magnetometer readings from Canberra, Australia. This is considered to be a weak impact. Nevertheless, it was enough to spark auroras around the Arctic Circle.”

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The Auroras formed after the CME impact were captured by Marianne Bergli in Storfjord, Norway. She said, “What an amazing night!!! It looked like a green serpent was dancing around the Moon. ”

Effects of solar activity

While Earth's magnetosphere deflects most solar activity carried by the solar wind, some charged particles seep through. These energetic particles cause magnetic disturbances, classified as either geomagnetic storms or substorms. These storms can cause stunning sky phenomena known as Auroras or Northern Lights.

When solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid is affected when it hits the planet's magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large.

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First Published Date: 03 Feb, 17:30 IST
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