SCARY: Solar winds cracked open Magnetic Fields of Earth and caused a surprise Geomagnetic storm
Over the weekend of June 25-26, a rare and strange phenomenon occurred right above everyone's head. Cracks were formed in the Earth's primary protective sheath, its magnetic fields, and solar winds rushed inside to cause a surprise geomagnetic storm. The event was scary because the Earth's magnetic fields are what protects us from the harmful solar radiations as well as the harsh magnetic fields that can not only damage all electronic gadgets and machineries but also burn our skin. So, how exactly did a crack form on the Earth's magnetic field and how devastating were its effects? Read on to find out.
The incident was reported by SpaceWeather.com and the website reported that a G1 class geomagnetic storm broke out on the night of June 25 and continued till early hours of June 26. It came as a surprise to the agency as there were no earlier predictions for a geomagnetic storm on the said date but it was later revealed that the event was possible due to a crack formation in the Earth's magnetosphere.
A crack in the magnetic fields of Earth causes a surprise geomagnetic storm
The website noted, “A co-rotating interaction region (CIR) hit Earth's magnetic field, opening a crack in our planet's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in to spark a rare solstice display of auroras”. A co-rotating interaction region or CIR is the region where two different streams of solar winds collide. As solar winds carry magnetic flux, it stretches open the Earth's magnetic field causing cracks within itself. “After this CIR arrived, the solar wind speed ramped up to 700 km/s, confirming that a CIR transition had taken place,” it added.
While it was not the first time that a CIR has caused a crack in the Earth's magnetosphere, it is incredibly rare. NASA has observed similar situations earlier and noted that “immense cracks sometimes develop in Earth's magnetosphere and remain open for hours. This allows the solar wind to gush through and power stormy space weather”. No permanent damage occurs however, and the magnetosphere is capable of repairing itself.
The storm over the weekend was not a big one, thankfully. The G1 class geomagnetic storms usually do not make it to the Earth, but due to the cracks, people in higher latitudes were able to see brilliant aurora displays. However, if the geomagnetic storm was of a higher intensity, it could have easily damaged communication systems, GPS, mobile network and even electricity grid.