WORST solar storm of 2023 just struck Earth; THIS happened next | Tech News

WORST solar storm of 2023 just struck Earth; THIS happened next

On April 23, the most powerful solar storm of the year 2023 struck the Earth, covering a massive region of Europe, most of the USA and China. Find out how it impacted us.

| Updated on: Apr 25 2023, 10:52 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
Solar storm
1/5 The Sun is the largest object in our solar system and is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of the solar system. It is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest bits of debris in orbit around it. The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The Sun’s activity, from its powerful eruptions to the steady stream of charged particles it sends out, influences the nature of space throughout the solar system. (NASA)
Solar storm
3/5 According to NASA, measuring a “day” on the Sun is complicated because of the way it rotates. It doesn't spin as a single, solid ball. This is because the Sun’s surface isn't solid like Earth's. Instead, the Sun is made of super-hot, electrically charged gas called plasma. This plasma rotates at different speeds on different parts of the Sun. At its equator, the Sun completes one rotation in 25 Earth days. At its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days. (NASA)
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4/5 Above the Sun’s surface are its thin chromosphere and the huge corona (crown). This is where we see features such as solar prominences, flares, and coronal mass ejections. The latter two are giant explosions of energy and particles that can reach Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
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Know all about the severe solar storm that hit the Earth on April 23. (Unsplash)

Just when we thought that the solar disturbance on the Sun might be slowing down due to the lack of any Earth-directed activity in over a week, our planet witnessed the most terrifying solar storm strike of the year 2023. The severe solar storm was caused by a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit that arrived earlier than expected and sparked a G4-class geomagnetic storm on Earth. It should be noted that this is only the second time in two years that a solar storm of this category has been seen. The storm engulfed a massive region covering Europe, China, and most of the USA. As it subsides now, things are still complicated with an NOAA prediction saying another G2-class storm is due to arrive tomorrow, April 26.

SpaceWeather.com noted, “Arriving earlier than expected, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field. The impact sparked a severe G4-class geomagnetic storm with auroras in Europe sighted as far south as France”. For now, the storm is subsiding. But there is no reason to celebrate so soon. “Minor (G1) to moderate (G2) geomagnetic storm remains possible as Earth exits the CME's wake”, it added.

Severe solar storm strikes the Earth

The CME which hit the Earth was released on April 21 from a magnetic filament. Interestingly, another CME cloud was released from the same filament on April 19, which produced a storm so weak that it barely registered on the Kp index. However, this one broke all previous records of this year.

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Social media platforms were flooded with users posting pictures of the night sky glowing in radiant green, blue and red hues due to the storm. Aurora displays were seen as far south as Texas and France.

However, a geomagnetic storm is not just a fun event to chase auroras. The G4-class category also highlights the destructive power it contains within it. Typically, such storms can damage satellites, disrupt GPS, mobile networks, and internet connectivity, cause power grid failure, and even impact ground-based electronics. The full extent of the damage done by this particular storm has not been assessed at the moment.

NOAA's DSCOVR satellite's role in solar storm monitoring

NOAA monitors solar storms and Sun's behavior using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The different measurements are done on temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation, and frequency of the solar particles.

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First Published Date: 25 Apr, 10:12 IST