No Internet crash, no blackout, but this Geomagnetic storm was fascinating; know why

  • A Geomagnetic storm just hit Earth. Notably, severe storms can cause damage to Internet and electricity grids. However, this geomagnetic storm did something that was fascinating.

| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 21:31 IST
geomagnetic storm
Geomagnetic storm did not do any damage to the Internet or electricity infrastructure but it left a huge number of people gawping at the sky. (AP)
geomagnetic storm
Geomagnetic storm did not do any damage to the Internet or electricity infrastructure but it left a huge number of people gawping at the sky. (AP)

A massive geomagnetic storm hit Earth on Saturday, which was caused by a solar flare that erupted from the face of the Sun last Thursday. It took a few days to reach the Earth, but when it did, it caused a sensation.

Any geomagnetic storm has some potential for destruction, with the really bigger ones having the power to knockout out the Internet, Satellites, GPS navigation and the electricity grid for months. However, this geomagnetic storm was not of a very severe nature. It has been dubbed as a G3-class geomagnetic storm.

While it did not do any damage to the infrastructure on Earth, it had one phenomenal impact. It created some marvellous auroras in the Northern hemisphere for humans to gawk at. These are fascinating colours in the sky that are marvellous to behold and photograph. The really strong geomagnetic storms can generate huge auroras that can stretch almost to the Equator from the poles.

So much huffing and puffing by the Sun and what we got were just some pretty colours in the sky?

Here, it should be remembered that these geomagnetic storms are extremely powerful and the fact that this one generated auroras speaks volumes about its strength.

All that the Sun has to do is shoot off a bigger solar flare towards the Earth and that would certainly create massive problems here on Earth.

However, storms of that high an intensity as to knockout the Internet and electricity happen at the most once in a hundred years or so. Unfortunately, the last one recorded was not too long ago.

NASA says, "On April 2, 2001, the sun unleashed the biggest solar flare ever recorded, as observed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite. This explosion hurled a coronal mass ejection into space at a whopping speed of roughly 7.2 million kilometers per hour."

The worrying fact about it was that it was even more powerful than the solar flare on March 6, 1989, which was related to the disruption of power grids in Canada.

The thing that saved Earth from a torrid times was that the solar flare was not aimed directly towards Earth. The part of the Sun that shot off the flare was not facing the Earth at that time.

The classification of solar flares goes like this: X-class are dubbed the most intense by NASA. These are themselves sub-divided. So, an X2 class flare is twice as intense as an X1, and an X3 is three times as intense. The monster flares are classified as X10 or stronger. This flare was dubbed as an X1-class flare.

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First Published Date: 02 Nov, 08:35 IST