Menacing CME hurled towards Earth! Could deliver glancing blow on Feb 14 | Tech News

Menacing CME hurled towards Earth! Could deliver glancing blow on Feb 14

A CME was recently hurled towards Earth and it could impact on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

| Updated on: Feb 13 2023, 10:04 IST
Top NASA Astronomy Pictures of the week: Nebulae to Comet ZTF, check them all
Solar Flare
1/5 Rosette Nebula (Feb 6) - A breathtaking image of a nebula, which is around 5200 light-years away from Earth was featured as the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day on Feb 6. NASA says in the heart of the Rosette Nebula, there lies a bright cluster of stars that light up the nebula. NGC 2244's stars only formed a few million years ago from the surrounding gas. The center of the Rosette Nebula, visible through binoculars in the Monoceros constellation, measures about 50 light-years in diameter.  (NASA/Lyman Insley)
Solar Flare
2/5 Rare Green Comet ZTF (Feb 7) - The Rare Green Comet ZTF passed Earth at its closest distance on February 1 after a period of nearly 50000 years. Along with the comet, two dippers - the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper can also be seen. The Big Dipper is a popular term used to describe the shape formed by the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major or the Great Bear.  (NASA/Petr Horalek/Institute of Physics in Opava)
Solar Flare
3/5 Wind-Shaped Nebula (Feb 8) - NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb 8 is a mesmerizing snapshot of the Stellar Wind-Shaped Nebula RCW 58. It is located nearly 13000 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. The Nebula has a wolf star located in the center, a star which is 100 times as massive as our Sun, a million times more luminous, and with 30 times the surface temperature. When these stars expand, they eject high-speed stellar winds through their outer layer.  (NASA/Mike Selby/Mark Hanson)
Solar Flare
4/5 Nacreous Clouds (Feb 9) - Nacreous Clouds are a type of rare Polar Stratospheric Clouds which form when unusually cold temperatures in the usually cloudless lower stratosphere form ice crystals. NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on Feb 9 is of the stunning Nacreous Clouds visible in Swedish skies. They are formed in the lower Stratosphere at an altitude of about 15 KM to 25 KM. (NASA/ Dennis Lehtonen)
Solar Flare
5/5 Comet ZTF meets Comet ATLAS (Feb 10) - NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb 10 is breathtaking picture of the Comet ZTF racing across the skies as it passed another comet named Comet C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) near the constellation Auriga. Captured on the night of February 6 from a garden observatory in Germany's Bavarian Forest, the starry field of view toward the constellation Auriga spans about 2.5 degrees.  (NASA/Stefan Bemmerl)
Solar Flare
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The CME was hurled towards Earth just hours after the release of a dangerous solar flare. (NASA SDO)

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. These clouds can erupt in any direction, and then continue on in that direction. Only when the cloud is aimed at Earth will the CME hit it and therefore, cause disturbances there of various kinds. CME occurs more frequently during the solar cycle peak, which is in the middle of the cycle.

The Sun released a mighty powerful X1-class solar flare on February 11 which could've caused devastating effects on Earth if it was hurled towards the planet, but it wasn't. That does not mean we're safe. Mere hours after the X1-class flare was released, the Sun spewed out a filament of magnetism in its Northern hemisphere which hurled a CME into space.

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The report stated, “Yesterday's X1-class solar flare attracted all the attention, but it did not produce a CME. Another explosion did. Five hours before the X-flare, a filament of magnetism erupted from the sun's northern hemisphere and hurled a CME into space.”

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Although the CME will mostly pass safely by, but, a small part of it could still impact the planet on February 14 near the Artic which could result in stunning auroras to be witnessed by astronomers and skywatchers. “Most of the CME will pass north of Earth, but not all. A glancing blow is likely on Feb. 14th. Arctic sky watchers could get a light show for Valentine's Day”, the report further stated.

How NASA monitors solar activity

Among many satellites and telescopes observing the Sun currently, one is the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The SDO carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities.

They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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First Published Date: 13 Feb, 10:03 IST