Solar activity at an all-time high! Solar flares, Coronal Mass Ejections observed last week

The Sun is showcasing its might with dozens of solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections observed last week. Here’s what NASA has to say.

| Updated on: Sep 06 2022, 13:02 IST
Solar Flare explosion may cause Geomagnetic storms on Earth
Solar prominence
1/5 The report stated “Something just exploded on the sun's north-eastern part. On July 31st at 2309 UT, Earth-orbiting satellites registered a long-lasting C9.3-class solar flare; the intensity is probably an underestimate because it was partially eclipsed.” (NASA)
Solar flare
2/5 According to the report, debris flying away from the blast site on the Sun was observed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). “The explosion is significant because it may herald an active region set to emerge over the sun's north-eastern part later this week. A new sunspot group could bring an end to weeks of relative quiet,” the report further added. (NASA SDO)
Geomagnetic storm
3/5 Although Earth was not directly in the line of fire, the solar flares which hurled towards Earth may cause the emergence of Geomagnetic storms. According to NASA, a geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere which occurs when there is a strong exchange of energy from the solar wind in the space above Earth. (REUTERS)
Geomagnetic storm
4/5 According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers, there is a chance of a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm on August 3. As per the K-index, which measures the magnetic field around the Earth, solar storms are divided into 5 classes from G-1 to G-5. The G-1 is the lowest impact Geomagnetic storm whereas G-5 is assigned to the most severe storms. (NASA)
5/5 The frequency of solar flares is set to increase in the coming years as the Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle, likely to be around 2025. This will not only increase the frequency of solar flares and solar storms, but could also potentially Earth systems like power grid and GPS. (NASA)
Solar prominence
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As many as 24 solar flares erupted from the surface of the Sun last week. (NASA)

Our Sun is nearing the middle of its 11-year solar cycle, resulting in increased solar activity and solar output. Earth has faced numerous solar flares these past few months and more are expected as the Sun moves ahead in its cycle. As many as 32 Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) have been observed emitting from the Sun in the past couple of days.

In the last week, NASA has observed 24 solar flares and 32 CMEs erupting from the surface of the Sun. 2 new solar active regions were also observed by the space agency. NASA shared the information in a recent tweet, “This week, there were 32 coronal mass ejections, 24 solar flares, and two new active regions on the Sun – but as of Sept. 2, 2022, no geomagnetic storms. ”

This has already resulted in a solar storm which hit Earth on Sunday. reported, “The storm is lasting longer than expected, and geomagnetic activity could persist through September 5.”

According to NASA, minor G-1 class solar storms are also expected to hit the planet in the coming days.

What is a Solar Flare?

According to NASA, Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. Solar Flares occur due to Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) on the surface of the Sun which sends charged photon particles hurtling towards Earth.

Solar flares impact Earth only when they occur on the side of the sun facing Earth. Because flares are made of photons, they travel out directly from the flare site, so if we can see the flare, we can be impacted by it, according to NASA.

What is Coronal Mass Ejection?

CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. Earth being in the same phase at the moment is experiencing frequent CMEs causing various effects.

What is a Solar Storm?

Solar storms occur due to a coronal mass ejection (CME) that is set off on the surface of the Sun. This ejection sends solar flares hurtling towards Earth. As per the K-index, which measures the magnetic field around the Earth, solar storms are divided into 5 classes from G-1 to G-5. The G-1 is the lowest impact solar G5 is given to the most severe solar storms.

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First Published Date: 06 Sep, 13:02 IST