Solar storm ALERT! Earth to suffer Sun blast today, warns NASA

NASA models have shown that a coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud will hit the Earth in the late hours of today, February 17. This can cause a dangerous solar storm. Know the details.

| Updated on: Feb 17 2023, 12:55 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)
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 Storm
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NASA issues a warning against a solar storm expected to hit the Earth today. (Pixabay)

The solar onslaught continues. Yesterday, February 16, powerful solar winds entered the Earth's inner atmosphere through a crack that opened in the magnetosphere. As a result, aurora displays were seen as far as New York, which is amazing as it is an extremely low altitude area when it comes to aurora formation. But that was a mild affair. NASA prediction models have now warned us against a far more sinister solar storm attack. A coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud that was released on Valentine's day will finally reach our planet today, February 17. The resultant solar storm can be dangerous and have serious consequences for ham radio operators and independent aviators. Check details.

The development was reported by which noted on its website, “A CME is heading for Earth, and it could spark a good display of auroras when it arrives later today or tomorrow. NASA's computer model of the CME suggests it will reach Earth on Feb. 17th at 1800 UT. First contact is expected to produce a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm, intensifying to moderate G2-class storming on Feb. 18th”. For the Indian context, the solar storm will strike the Earth at around 11:30 PM IST.

Solar storm to strike the Earth today

The concerning aspect from this solar storm is that it has a potential to grow to a G2-class storm. This is far more intense than the usual G1-class events we see generally. Just a couple of days ago, a G2-class solar storm caused one of the most intense auroral displays in a long time. But that is not the full extent of what such solar storms can do.

Being a G2-class storm, it can also disrupt wireless communications and GPS services, causing trouble for airlines, mariners, ham radio controllers and drone operators. The solar storm can delay flights, cause ships to change course and disrupt any important information that is shared through these low frequency channels.

Further, a powerful solar storm can potentially damage satellites, break down mobile networks and internet services, cause power grid failures and corrupt sensitive ground-based electronics such as pacemakers and ventilators. However, whether this solar storm can turn so dangerous is something we have to wait and watch.

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory's role in predicting solar storms

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities. They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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First Published Date: 17 Feb, 12:54 IST
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