Incoming CIR could spark solar storm on Earth TODAY; Know all about it

A solar storm is all set to hit the Earth later today as a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) is likely to arrive in the next few hours. Know what to expect.

| Updated on: Oct 12 2023, 11:52 IST
Do all solar activities like solar storms, CME, impact Earth? This is what NASA says
Solar flare
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)
Solar flare
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)
Solar flare
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)
Solar flare
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Know all about the solar storm that is about to strike the Earth today. (Pixabay)

The Earth this month has seen quite a few impacts due to the solar activities on the Sun, including a couple of solar flare eruptions and consequent radio blackouts, but so far we have not seen any solar storm events. But that is expected to change later today, October 12, as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast has revealed that our planet is likely to be hit by a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) that can spark a solar storm event. Know the likely impact of this solar storm, and why events like CIR occur.

According to a report by, “NOAA forecasters say that a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) could hit Earth later today. CIRs are shock-like transition zones between fast- and slow-moving streams of solar wind. Think of them as mini-CMEs. If this one arrives as predicted, Arctic sky watchers might witness an outburst of lights tonight”.

Solar storm sparked by CIR

Co-rotating Interaction Regions (CIR) are caused when fast-moving solar winds from different directions strike the Earth, stretching apart its magnetic field and creating cracks. The magnetosphere eventually recovers, healing these cracks on its own. The last time a solar storm was sparked by CIR was in June. So, while they are relatively uncommon, they are not rare.

However, with the Sun nearing the peak of its solar cycle, such cracks can have a devastating effect as they amplify the intensity of the solar storm. If it was a powerful CME cloud, it could have produced a severe solar storm. A severe solar storm can even interrupt mobile data, and internet reception and cause power grid failure.

NOAA's Sun monitoring satellite

One of the major entities that observe and predict such atmospheric disturbances is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It has an arsenal of satellites floating around the Earth that observe our planet and outer space to analyze and understand what causes different weather phenomena. One such tech marvel is the NOAA-20 satellite. It is a polar-orbiting, non-geosynchronous, environmental satellite, part of the Joint Polar Satellite System.

It crosses the equator about 14 times daily, providing full global coverage twice a day. This gives meteorologists information on atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, fire detection, and more.

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First Published Date: 12 Oct, 11:52 IST