Solar flare alert! Powerful M-class solar flare could hit Earth today

    Beware! A solar flare alert has been issued and it could strike Earth as soon as today! Know about it all here.
    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Nov 14 2022, 10:01 IST
    NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
    Solar storm
    1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
    Solar Flare
    2/5 Solar Flares: 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. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
    CME
    3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): 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. (NASA)
    Coronal Mass Ejection or CME
    4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
    Solar Particles
    5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
    Solar Flare
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    A solar flare is expected to hit Earth today! (NASA SDO)

    High-speed solar flares hurled by the Sun have brought the risk of solar and geomagnetic storms. Notably, Earth has been bombarded with solar particles these past few months as the Sun is entering the peak of its 11-year solar cycle and the solar activity is only expected to increase. Therefore, as the Sun further enters the peak of its solar cycle, more solar flares, solar storms and geomagnetic storms are expected to hit the planet.

    A solar flare alert has also been issued today, November 14 by NOAA, according to spaceweather.com. NOAA forecasters have alerted of a 40 percent chance that an M-class solar flare could hit Earth due to two Sunspots having unstable beta-gamma magnetic fields. There's also a 10 percent chance that a powerful X-rated solar flare hits the planet. Spaceweather.com said, “NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of an M-class solar flare today to 40% (plus a 10% chance of X-flares). Two sunspots, AR3140 and AR3141, have unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields. If either explodes, the flare will be geoeffective. Both sunspots are facing Earth"

    What happens when solar particles hit the Earth?

    As the particles erupted during the CME reach Earth, they interact with Earth's magnetic field and spark Geomagnetic storms. When solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid is affected when it hits the planet's magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large.

    Auroras too get formed on the poles. In fact, Geomagnetic storms are often the precursor to stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

    Solar storms.... influencing elections?

    Did you know that solar flares have been known to mess with the voting machines and sway the results? No, we're not kidding.

    According to a presentation given by Bharat Bhuva, a professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston on February 17, 2017, space weather, solar flares in particular, have been blamed for meddling with votes during elections, despite not being legally registered to vote!

    According to the information provided by Vanderbilt University to phys.org, when cosmic rays strike Earth, they release various particles like energetic neutrons, muons, pions and alpha particles. Although these particles do not affect the human body, they also pass-through integrated circuits and cause damage, often changing the data stored in the memory.

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    First Published Date: 14 Nov, 09:35 IST
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