Solar flares fury! STRONG Geomagnetic Storm may hit Earth today

NOAA has issued a warning that a strong up to G3-class geomagnetic storm may hit Earth today.

| Updated on: May 07 2023, 14:38 IST
Wrath of Sun! Solar flares spark Geomagnetic storms, blackouts, and more on Earth this week
Solar Storm
1/6 Activity on the Sun was quite high in the first week of May 2023. The week began with the sunspot AR3288 exploding, which resulted in a massive solar flare eruption, which caused a shortwave radio blackout in multiple regions including northern and western Africa, the northeastern region of South America, and some fringe areas in western Europe. (Pixabay)
Pink sky
2/6 On Wednesday, multiple coronal mass ejection (CME) clouds struck the Earth. These were released the previous weekend when a magnetic filament erupted. This sparked a G1-class geomagnetic storm on Earth.  (Pixabay)
double aurora
3/6 The very next day, “Sunspot complex AR3293-3296 turned unstable and began exploding continuously (an event which is still going on today, three days since its start). As a result, the Earth experienced a rolling series of shortwave radio blackouts. (@amazingskyguy / Twitter)
Solar storm
4/6 On day two of the sunspot complex explosion, multiple CME clouds were released from the surface of the Sun, however, due to so many CMEs escaping together, the telescopes were not able to find out whether one of them was Earth-directed or not. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
5/6 The suspicion that one of the CME was indeed Earth-directed became clear as today, NOAA forecasters declared that a geomagnetic storm can hit our planet today after a CME wave was seen headed for us. Reportedly, G2-G3-class geomagnetic storm can strike the Earth later today. (NASA)
Solar Storm
6/6 But sadly, that won’t be the end of solar activity for this week. Another geomagnetic storm is expected to arrive either tomorrow, May 7, or on May 8. And in case both of these merge, the resultant storm can be terrifying. (NASA/SDO)
Solar flare
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A strong G3-class geomagnetic storm may possibly strike Earth today, NOAA warns. (Pixabay)

The recent surge in solar activity has caught many astronomers off guard. There has been a significant increase in the number of solar flares erupting on the Sun, resulting in abnormally fast solar winds. In turn, this has sparked strong geomagnetic storms on Earth. This is due to the Sun being at its most volatile as it approaches its solar cycle peak. The star entered its 25th solar cycle in 2019, with the peak expected to occur in 2025. However, some studies suggest that it could arrive earlier, given the sudden surge in solar storms.

Recently, there was a series of three-day outbursts of M-class solar flares on May 3rd, 4th, and 5th, a report confirmed. These solar flares spewed so many CMEs into space. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has suggested that at least one of these CMEs is heading for Earth. This simply means Earth is in danger of a strong geomagnetic storm, the report added.

Solar flare impact on Earth

In response to this powerful solar flare, a powerful geomagnetic storm is expected to hit Earth today. "The CME will hit Earth's magnetic field on May 7th around 21:00 UT. The impact could spark geomagnetic storms ranging in intensity from minor (G1) to moderate (G2) and maybe even strong (G3)," NOAA mentioned. Also, when an incoming CME strikes, it can intensify on May 8th as Earth passes through the CME's magnetized wake.

The geomagnetic storm has the potential to cause significant harm by damaging satellites, disrupting mobile phone and internet networks, causing power grid failures, blocking radio communications, and more. "During G3-class storms, auroras have been sighted in the USA as far south as Illinois and Oregon," mentioned.

Tech behind solar storm monitoring

Since its launch in 2016, the DSCOVR satellite has enabled NOAA to monitor solar storms and the Sun's behavior. The collected data is then analyzed by the Space Weather Prediction Center, where various measurements are taken on factors such as temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation, and frequency of solar particles to prepare the final analysis.

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First Published Date: 07 May, 14:04 IST