Solar storm bludgeons Earth as CME strikes; Can intensify in next few hours

A CME cloud from yesterday’s explosion on the Sun has reached the Earth sparking a solar storm. Forecasters predict that due to the conditions, the storm can intensify in the hours to come.

| Updated on: Mar 15 2023, 11:36 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
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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)
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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)
solar storm
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Know all about the solar storm that has just struck the Earth. (Pixabay)

Yesterday, March 14, NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) reported that a huge explosion took place on the farside of the Sun which spewed out an extremely rare coronal mass ejection (CME) clouds that were traveling at mind-bending speeds exceeding 3000 kilometers per second. Due to such a high speed, shock waves have been released, which sent some of the solar particles in the Earth's direction. Just hours back, these clouds made it to the Earth and sparked a solar storm. Worryingly, the storm can intensify in the hours to come.

The incident was reported by which noted in its website, “A CME just hit Earth's magnetic field (March 15 @ 0415 UT), sparking a G1-class solar storm. Currently, conditions favor the development of even stronger G2-class storms in the hours ahead”. It appears that the strengthening of the solar storm is being caused by solar winds which are adding more speed and magnetic flux to the CME particles.

Solar storm strikes the Earth

The forecast has revealed a solar storm between G1 and G2-class that will affect the Earth. These two categories are quite different when it comes to their impact. A G1-class solar storm is generally harmless and only produces weak auroras in the higher latitudes. However, if it is a G2-class solar storm, it could be more intense than expected.

A G2-class storm can 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. Additionally, more powerful solar storms (G3 and above) can potentially damage satellites, break down mobile networks and internet services, cause power grid failures and corrupt sensitive ground-based electronics. However, it is unlikely that this particular solar storm will get stronger than G3-class.

NOAA's DSCOVR satellite's role in solar storm monitoring

NOAA monitors the solar storms and Sun's behavior using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The different measurements are done on temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles.

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First Published Date: 15 Mar, 11:30 IST