Scary solar storm today as terrible flanking CME to smash into Earth

Forecasters have predicted that the Earth can be hit by a flanking CME cloud that was released by the Sun on Monday. It can spark a terrifying solar storm today, April 28.

| Updated on: Apr 28 2023, 09:47 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
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)
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)
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The Earth is expected to suffer another wave of solar storm today. Find out what could be the consequences. (Pixabay)

It has not even been a full week since one of the strongest G4-class geomagnetic storm struck the Earth and now, another similarly powerful storm is set to hit our planet today, April 28. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud is expected to sideswipe our planet, sparking another solar storm event. The CME was released on April 24 when a magnetic filament on the surface of the Sun turned unstable and exploded. With this solar storm set to hit the Earth in likely a few hours, you should know what to expect.

A SpaceWeather report has revealed the details around the prediction. It stated, “NOAA forecasters say that minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on April 27th when a CME is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. It was hurled into space on April 24th by an explosion in the sun's southern hemisphere. Most of the CME will sail south of Earth, but its northern flank will probably touch our planet”.

Solar storm to strike the Earth today

There are two sides to this incoming solar storm. First, on a luckier note, the incoming CME is not a cannibal CME. For the unaware, a cannibal CME is one which has consumed other CME clouds along its path and as a result, has turned extremely powerful. Second, the CME strike will not be a head-on collision but rather a glancing blow. The cloud has flanked the Earth and while the southern end is likely to entirely miss the Earth, it's the northern end that can hit us.

Due to these factors, it is believed that the resulting geomagnetic storm may not be a severe one, the likes of which we saw last weekend. However, things can take a turn for the worse if the CME meets solar wind and either changes direction or gets further intensified. In that case, the solar storm can cause significant damage to our infrastructure.

In extreme cases, these storms can damage satellites, disrupt mobile networks and internet services and even cause power grid failures.

Know how NOAA monitors the Sun

While many space agencies from NASA with its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) keep track of Sun-based weather phenomena, one that particularly stands out is the DSCOVR satellite by NOAA. The satellite became operational in 2016 and tracks different measurements of the Sun and its atmosphere including temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared.

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First Published Date: 28 Apr, 09:45 IST
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