Geomagnetic storm today! Scary ‘Cannibal’ CME shot at Earth after 17 solar flares erupt from Sun | Tech News

Geomagnetic storm today! Scary ‘Cannibal’ CME shot at Earth after 17 solar flares erupt from Sun

A Geomagnetic storm will hit Earth today after as many as 17 solar flares erupted on the Sun resulting in a gigantic ‘Cannibal’ coronal mass ejection (CME).

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 11:08 IST
Coronal Mass Ejection or CME
A frightening Cannibal CME resulted from 17 solar flares that erupted from a single sunspot is headed towards the Earth. It will cause a Geomagnetic storm today on Earth. (Pixabay)

A destructive solar storm has been hurled towards the Earth and the resultant Geomagnetic storm will hit today itself! This solar storm stems from a large coronal mass ejection (CME), which is being called ‘Cannibal CME'. This CME was shot towards the Earth as a result of as many as 17 solar flares which erupted in the same sunspot, a very rare event. In the last few days, the solar activity directed at the Earth has increased significantly. This was due to a notoriously active solar region AR2975 which came into central view of the Earth last Monday and has been shooting wave after wave of solar flares at our planet. According to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the resultant geomagnetic storm that will hit Earth today will be of a massive G3 class. It has the potential to cause some damage to satellites and other communication systems on Earth.

The SWPC has shared that the cannibal CME is speeding towards the Earth at a speed of 3,027,599 kmph, which is extremely high. Although the speed itself is not a concern since unlike asteroids, it does not add to the damage, it is still worrying as it means the geomagnetic storm will hit the Earth sooner and will give less time to scientists to take evasive action concerning satellites and other sensitive infra. In fact, the solar storm is expected to hit the Earth within a few hours today!

The Cannibal CME hurtling towards the Earth

Cannibal CME are those which actually overatake and, in a sense, devour the earlier ones due to their higher speeds. The combined charged particles form a giant front that sparks geomagnetic storms on Earth. This always has a higher electromagnetic output and can cause significant damage to satellites and communication systems.

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How geomagnetic storms work

How solar storms form is interesting to understand. At first, a solar flare or a solar prominence goes off at the surface of the Sun. We currently do not fully understand the reason behind solar flares erupting but NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) together launched a spacecraft called the Solar Orbiter in 2020 which is trying to unravel the secrets behind these random spontaneous combustions on the Sun. Once a solar flare sets off, huge solar matter and radiation are thrown into space. These are known as coronal mass ejections or CME.

The CME contains radiation and high electromagnetic charge and rushes through space at extremely high speed. Once it reaches the Earth and hits our atmosphere, we call that interaction with our Earth's system a geomagnetic storm. Earth gets bombarded by geomagnetic storms on a frequent basis. These geomagnetic storms are divided into 5 classes from G1 to G5, where G1 is the weakest and G5 is the strongest storm. At its mildest, a geomagnetic storm will cause fantastic auroras or northern lights at high altitudes of the Earth. At its strongest, these can cause heavy damage to satellites, disrupt communication systems and cause power grid failure resulting in heavy losses in both infrastructure and human lives as even the emergency systems, which are linked with electricity and internet are knocked out.

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First Published Date: 31 Mar, 12:17 IST
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