Huge geomagnetic storm hits Earth, causes power fluctuations, auroras | Tech News

Huge geomagnetic storm hits Earth, causes power fluctuations, auroras

A dangerous geomagnetic storm has hit Earth and it has had visible, physical effects. Here’s what NOAA revealed.

| Updated on: Jan 30 2023, 09:56 IST
6 TERRIFYING solar storms that blasted Earth in 2022
Geomagnetic storm
1/6 On June 29, a surprise solar storm struck the Earth. The solar storm was not caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) but by a corotating interaction region (CIR), which opened a hole in the Earth's magnetosphere. It was a G1-class solar storm which is capable of causing shortwave radio blackouts and GPS disruptions. Interestingly, it coincided with the rare five planet alignment event.  (NASA)
Geomagnetic storm
2/6 Extremely rare pink auroras could be seen on November 3 near Greenland, after a G1-class solar storm slammed into the Earth. Solar storms usually give a greenish hue due to ionizing of Oxygen atoms. However, the CME in this case was able to reach the lower strata of the atmosphere which ionized Nitrogen atoms and gave off the rare pink aura.  (Representative Photo) (Pixabay)
Geomagnetic storm
3/6 On November 6, a powerful solar flare which was estimated to be an X-class solar flare caused temporary radio blackouts in Australia and New Zealand. The resultant solar storm blocked all high frequency radio waves making it hard for various emergency services and airlines that use radio communications to operate for multiple hours.  (Pixabay)
Geomagnetic storm
4/6 On August 7 and 8, a mysterious phenomenon was seen after a solar storm strike which scientists call STEVE (strong thermal emission velocity enhancement). A gigantic ribbon of purple light followed by a wave of green light could be seen in many parts of North America.   (@KaniskiDylan / Twitter)
Geomagnetic storm
5/6 A rare double solar storm attack was seen on March 14 when a G2-class solar storm was quickly followed up with another G1-class solar storm. Scientists believe that such multiple solar storm attacks are going to be more frequent in coming days as the Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle. (Pixabay)
Geomagnetic storm
6/6 On October 25, the Sun seemed to beam a smile at Earth even as it spewed a stream of dangerous solar particles towards our planet. Multiple dark regions popped up on the Sun that gave an uncanny impression of a smiley face. The resultant solar storm from the event was noted to be a G2-class which is so strong that it is capable of causing fluctuations in electricity grids on Earth.  (SDO/AIA)
Geomagnetic storm
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Geomagnetic storms can cause power grid failures, auroras and more. (NASA)

Solar activity such as sunspot eruptions, solar storms, solar flares and more, have increasingly plagued Earth for the past months due to the Sun now being in the middle of its solar cycle. Although this solar activity might seem harmless due to the distance of the Sun from our planet, they can cause major damage. 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.

What NOAA report says

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has revealed that a Geomagnetic storm hit Earth in the past couple of days and it caused power grid fluctuations and auroras. NOAA forecasters have revealed that Earth was at risk of a geomagnetic storm which hit the planet in the past days. According to the NOAA report, the area of impact of this geomagnetic storm was “primarily poleward of 65 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.”

The organization has further revealed that this geomagnetic storm caused power grids in places of impact to fluctuate.

Also, as a result of this storm, stunning auroras were visible at high altitudes such as in Canada and Alaska.

This geomagnetic storm is a reminder of the power of the sun and the need for continued research and monitoring to better predict and prepare for these events in the future. To achieve this, NASA has a mission in place to study the rising solar activity of the Sun. NASA's SunRISE mission is an upcoming mission expected to launch in 2024 to study and pinpoint how giant bursts of energetic particles originate from the Sun and evolve as they expand outward into space.

Effects of Geomagnetic Storm

As the particles erupted during the CME reach Earth, they interact with Earth's magnetic field and cause the formation of Geomagnetic storms. 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.

Auroras form as a result of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun which sends solar fares hurtling towards Earth. Geomagnetic storms are often the precursor to stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

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First Published Date: 30 Jan, 09:51 IST