SCARY CME hits Earth, causes massive solar storm; Satellite tossed around, may be lost | Tech News

SCARY CME hits Earth, causes massive solar storm; Satellite tossed around, may be lost

A massive solar storm, caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) struck the Earth today, January 4. The impact to the magnetosphere was so strong that a satellite was pushed out of its path.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Jan 04 2023, 12:41 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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Dangerous solar storm struck the Earth today. Know its scary impact. (nasa.gov)

Yesterday, it was reported that coronal mass ejections (CME) released from the Sun during an eruption on December 30th were moving towards the Earth and were going to cause a massive solar storm event when it reached us. CME-induced solar storms are more intense than usual and scientists were concerned about its impact. It finally struck the magnetosphere of our planet at 8:24 AM today, January 4, resulting in furious magnetic flux. The impact was so strong that an Australian satellite recorded a deviation from its path. If it is not able to regain its position, it could be lost forever. Read on to know the full impact of this solar storm.

The incident was reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “As predicted, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 4th (0254 UT). The impact jolted magnetometers around the world, causing a 38 nT deviation at the Canberra station in Australia”. But not all is over. It is predicted that further G1-class solar storm activity can be seen in hours ahead.

Solar storm strikes the Earth, tosses satellite away

The CME particles released a massive amount of magnetic energy. Such energy jolts can be potentially dangerous to satellites in the lower orbits of the Earth. The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) became a victim to these jolts and the magnetic impulses deviated it from its standard path. It is unclear at the moment whether it caused any damages to the instruments aboard the satellite.

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Luckily, the CME particles weren't the strongest and it is assumed that only a G1-class solar storm will be caused in hours to come in the arctic region. This can still impact GPS signals and radio waves, causing flights to recourse and delay their transit.

The Sun is nearing solar maximum, the peak of its solar cycle which is expected to reach in 2024 and as a result, the Sun is experiencing an increased solar activity. The Solar Dynamics Observatory of NASA detected a farside explosion on the Sun. This explosion was so strong that its shock waves were detected on both the poles of the Sun. If it were directed towards the Earth, it could have led to massive destruction to satellites, disruption to all wireless communications including mobile network, damage to internet services, power grid failures and more.

But this does not mean that we are safe. Whatever caused the explosion will face our planet in two day's time and if the region is still unstable, we may see more such explosions.

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First Published Date: 04 Jan, 12:28 IST
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