Solar storm barrage strikes Earth! NASA reveals massive impact effect
On October 20, a CME pair grazed the Earth. Forecasters predicted that it would create a minor solar storm, however, the impact was more massive than anyone could have imagined. NASA has now shared its image.
The solar storm event on October 20 has become somewhat of a mystery to astronomers and space weather physicists. The storm was triggered by a couple of coronal mass ejections (CME) that sideswiped the Earth and did not make head-on contact with the planet. They left the Sun one after the other in small eruptions, that should not have been carrying a high amount of solar matter or electromagnetic charge, but somehow its impact was far greater than some of the strongest CMEs we have seen in recent times. This is quite confusing as most forecasters had predicted a G1-class intensity for the storm, and while the storm itself was clocked at G1, the aurora display surpassed the intensity seen in that category. And now, a NASA image has been shared by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) institute that shows the widespread impact of the solar storm.
The image was shared by NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The institute created the composite image using NASA Worldview and added six different layers to capture the full spectrum of the aurora display. Posting it on X, the official account said, “Stunning! We couldn't download polar-orbiting data via direct broadcast Saturday due to a power outage so here is a composite view of the aurora from space via NASA Worldview”.
NASA image shows impact of solar storm
In the image, you can see the aurora trail moving across the US, bisecting the nation in two halves. The aurora spread intensifies in the middle and thins out at the coastal region. Interestingly, astronomers from the central zones have reported seeing two fully developed auroral lights, one in red and one in green, and were also able to see the extremely rare orange color aurora, which was created by mixing red and green (orange color aurora is not naturally formed).
But why did this solar storm show such an intense aurora display? A space weather student, MaryBeth Kiczenski, shared an image of the Kp graph and highlighted an ESW (east-south-west) rope as the culprit of the storm. For the unaware, the direction of the magnetic fields produced due to the CME strike can often exaggerate the impact as some particular directions are weak at resisting the entering radiation and electromagnetic waves.
Space weather physicist Dr. Tamitha Skov also replied to the post agreeing and said, “This is why such a weak #solarstorm made such a big impact. It is one of only two flux rope orientations that can pack such a big punch”.
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