Solar storm coming? High chances of solar flare eruption today, NOAA issues warning

NOAA forecasters have predicted that there is a high chance of another solar flare eruption today. It can release CME clouds and cause solar storm on Earth. Check details.

| Updated on: Feb 16 2023, 16:31 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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There is a high chance of a solar flare eruption today. Can it cause a solar storm on Earth? Find out. (Pixabay)

The solar storm on Valentine's day is still making headlines. Meanwhile, the Sun is already preparing its next assault. The month of February has been a turbulent one for the Earth. There have been multiple solar storm events and one X-class solar flare eruption so far this month. And now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued another warning, February 16. There is a high chance of a solar flare eruption today. This can cause radio blackouts on Earth and if the flare is intense enough, it can also release a coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud towards the Earth and cause spark a solar storm.

The report comes from which noted on its website, “NOAA forecasters say there is a 45% chance of M-class solar flares and a 10% chance of X-flares today, Feb. 16th. The likely source would be big sunspot AR3226, which has an unstable delta-class magnetic field and is directly facing Earth”. The sunspot AR322 has been on the Earth-facing solar disk for a while and it has been growing steadily.

Brewing solar storm makes NOAA issue warning

The forecast points majorly towards an M-class solar flare eruption, which is not as bad as an X-class flare. However, it can still cause some damage. Solar flares blast a huge wave of X-ray, gamma rays and magnetic energy that often interferes with various satellite-based wireless waves. This results in disruptions of GPS services as well as low frequency radio waves which are used by drone operators, ham radio operators and emergency service providers. In extreme cases, a powerful solar flare can also damage power grids.

Further, solar flare eruptions often release coronal mass ejection (CME) particles in space which can send another wave of solar storm to the Earth. These are more dangerous as they can damage satellites, mobile phone networks, internet services, power grids as well as ground-based electronic instruments, especially the critical ones such as pacemakers and supercomputers. At present, NOAA is keeping a vigilant eye on the sunspots to observe the situation.

While this is just a prediction for now, one solar storm is already headed for the Earth. A magnetic filament released CME cloud towards the Earth yesterday, February 15, which is expected to reach the Earth in the late hours of February 17 or early hours of February 18. Early predictions say that it could be a G2-class solar storm, which would make it the strongest solar storm of 2023 so far.

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First Published Date: 16 Feb, 16:09 IST
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