Solar storm ALERT issued as multiple CMEs charge towards Earth today | Tech News

Solar storm ALERT issued as multiple CMEs charge towards Earth today

As per NOAA, multiple minor CMEs could collectively launch a solar storm attack on the Earth today, May 3. Know the possible consequences from this event.

| Updated on: May 03 2023, 09:12 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
Know all about the incoming solar storm that can have devastating consequences.
1/5 The Sun is the largest object in our solar system and is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of the solar system. It is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest bits of debris in orbit around it. The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The Sun’s activity, from its powerful eruptions to the steady stream of charged particles it sends out, influences the nature of space throughout the solar system. (NASA)
Know all about the incoming solar storm that can have devastating consequences.
3/5 According to NASA, measuring a “day” on the Sun is complicated because of the way it rotates. It doesn't spin as a single, solid ball. This is because the Sun’s surface isn't solid like Earth's. Instead, the Sun is made of super-hot, electrically charged gas called plasma. This plasma rotates at different speeds on different parts of the Sun. At its equator, the Sun completes one rotation in 25 Earth days. At its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days. (NASA)
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4/5 Above the Sun’s surface are its thin chromosphere and the huge corona (crown). This is where we see features such as solar prominences, flares, and coronal mass ejections. The latter two are giant explosions of energy and particles that can reach Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
Know all about the incoming solar storm that can have devastating consequences.
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Know all about the incoming solar storm that can have devastating consequences. (NASA)

Yesterday, we were discussing the possibility of a solar storm this week as a result of a solar flare eruption on the sunspot AR3288. The early projections revealed that not enough coronal mass ejection (CME) had been released to spark a solar storm on Earth. However, something interesting happened. With the sunspot being in a constant state of instability, multiple flares occurred, all of which released faint CMEs, not capable of causing a solar storm by themselves. However, some of them have merged together to form a significantly stronger cloud. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters have predicted that the storm can strike later today.

According to a SpaceWeather report, “NOAA forecasters say that minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on May 2nd and 3rd due to the collective effect of several faint CMEs that left the sun over the weekend. They were launched into space by multiple eruptions from sunspot AR3288 and nearby magnetic filaments. A series of near misses and weak impacts could add up to high-latitude auroras in the next 48 hours”.

Dangerous solar storm is headed for the Earth

This particular effect of CME clouds to absorb the ones in their front and to merge the overall magnetic field is known as the cannibal CME effect. Since cannibal CME devours multiple clouds, their overall intensity is extremely high. When they finally strike the Earth, the combined strength of the CME particles easily breaks open the Earth's magnetic field and causes powerful solar storms.

Such storms can do more damage than normal. They can damage small satellites, impact mobile networks, GPS, and even pose a threat to ground-based electronics and power grids by increasing the magnetic potential by huge amounts.

With the peak of the current solar cycle being pushed by as much as a year, astronomers believe things are going to ramp up for the Sun. In April, the average number of sunspots was 96, which exceeded the official projections for the 26th month in a row. The month also witnessed the worst solar storm in six years. In the months to come, we might have to deal with even stronger storms.

How NASA SOHO watches the Sun

NASA's SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) is a satellite that was launched on December 2, 1995. It is a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the sun, its atmosphere, and its effects on the solar system. Equipped with 12 scientific instruments, such as Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT), Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI), LASCO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) and others, SOHO captures images of the sun's corona, measures the velocity and magnetic fields of the sun's surface, and observes the faint corona around the sun.

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First Published Date: 03 May, 09:12 IST