Geomagnetic storm sparks breathtaking auroras; Know details of CME impact

A CME has hit Earth, resulting in a geomagnetic storm. This caused breathtaking auroras in various parts of the world. Know all about it.

| Updated on: Oct 23 2023, 08:25 IST
Geomagnetic storm may hit Earth today; know what experts revealed
Geomagnetic storm
1/5 Dr. Tamitha Skov, a space weather physicist, has provided a detailed 5-day forecast for solar storms that may lead to a  geomagnetic storm today or eventually in the week. She used the data from NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and shared it in a simple form on her X handle. (Pixabay)
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2/5 Dr. Skov predicted a 35 percent chance of a minor solar storm today, potentially leading to a geomagnetic storm. The predictions say that it may primarily affect higher latitudes. For mid-latitudes, the likelihood of active storms was lower, at 15 percent. (Pixabay)
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3/5 The solar activity during the past gew days has been relatively low, with the sun producing one C-class and two B-class flares. The most substantial of these was a C1.5 flare originating from active region AR3464 in the northwest, occurring at 12:02 UTC on October 21. This active region was responsible for all three solar flares observed. (Pixabay)
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4/5 To study the sun, its atmosphere, and its impact on the solar system, NASA's SOHO satellite, launched on December 2, 1995, has been one of the most important instruments. A collaborative effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), SOHO is equipped with 12 scientific instruments, including the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT), Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI), and LASCO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph).  (Pixabay)
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5/5 These instruments allow SOHO to capture images of the sun's corona, measure the velocity and magnetic fields on the sun's surface, and observe the faint corona surrounding the sun. (Pixabay)
Geomagnetic storm
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Auroras were captured in both hemispheres, as per the report. (Representative Image) (Pexels)

The intensity of the Sun's activity has been rising in the last few months, and it is expected to increase even more as we approach the solar maximum. During this period, solar activity is at its peak, resulting in more solar flares, CMEs, solar storms and geomagnetic storms. All these solar phenomena hold the potential to cause damage on Earth. Technological instruments are especially at risk during these events, resulting in power blackouts and even disruption of radio communication.

A few days ago, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that a CME was on course for Earth, and could hit the planet soon.

Geomagnetic storm impact

According to a report by, the CME impact occurred on October 20, which was earlier than expected. As this CME hit Earth, it cracked open a hole in the planet's magnetosphere due to strong magnetic fields. This CME impact was initially overlooked, but the solar wind seeped through this gap, resulting in a geomagnetic storm. This breathtaking phenomenon took place in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Photographer Ian Griffin captured the amazing auroras from the Otago Peninsula of New Zealand. Speaking to Spaceweather, Griffin said, “I was out getting ready to photograph the Orionid meteor shower, which is in the Northern sky from here in New Zealand. But at around 9:30 local time my attention was focused entirely in the opposite direction as a wonderful display of the aurora australis exploded in the southern sky”.

Canadian sky witnessed beads and swirls while US midwestern states such as Kansas and Missouri also witnessed the stunning streaks of light in the sky.

Parker Solar Probe observations

NASA's Parker Solar Probe on September 5 recorded one of the most powerful Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) ever as it flew by the Sun. According to NASA, the CME hurled out interplanetary dust to about 6 million miles, which is one-sixth of the distance between the Sun and Mercury. Astonishingly, the dust floating around in space replenished it almost immediately.

Guillermo Stenborg, an astrophysicist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) who led this study said, “These interactions between CMEs and dust were theorized two decades ago, but had not been observed until Parker Solar Probe viewed a CME act like a vacuum cleaner, clearing the dust out of its path.”

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First Published Date: 23 Oct, 08:25 IST