Geomagnetic storm, sparked by powerful X2-class solar flare, to hit Earth today | Tech News

Geomagnetic storm, sparked by powerful X2-class solar flare, to hit Earth today

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast that a G1-class Geomagnetic storm could be sparked by a solar flare which is set to hit Earth.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Feb 20 2023, 09:32 IST
Do all solar activities like solar storms, CME, impact Earth? This is what NASA says
Geomagnetic storm
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)
Geomagnetic storm
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)
Geomagnetic storm
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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The Geomagnetic storm will hit Earth today. (NASA)

A Geomagnetic Storm is on the cards, which could potentially destroy electronics, cause power grid failures and more on Earth. An X2-class solar flare erupted on a freshly formed sunspot AR3229 just days ago on February 17. This flare was hurled out in the Earth's direction by the Sun and has been travelling towards the planet. Experts now expect this solar flare to reach Earth today and it could spark a dangerous Geomagnetic storm.

According to a report by spaceweather.com, the X2-class solar flare, which was hurled towards Earth by Sunspot AR3229, could hit Earth as soon as today and spark a G1-class Geomagnetic storm, as per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters. The report stated, “NOAA forecasters say that minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on Feb. 20th when a CME launched by Friday's X2-class solar flare reaches Earth.” NASA and NOAA have conflicting reports on the matter. NOAA's model predicts nothing more than a glancing blow when the solar flare hits Earth, while NASA's model says it could cause a stronger G2 or G3-class Geomagnetic storm.

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What can this solar activity do?

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. Geomagnetic storms are also the reason behind stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

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Factors driving solar activity

The Sun entered solar cycle 25 in 2019 and it is expected that it will hit its peak in July 2025. And this is the main reason why the Sun has suddenly become so violent. The Earth is in for a rough ride. If the Earth is hit with a G5-class solar storm, it can not only damage satellites and disrupt wireless communications such as internet services, mobile network and GPS, it can also cause power grid failures and even disrupt electronics such as heatt pacemakers in patients.

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First Published Date: 20 Feb, 09:32 IST
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