Solar storm delayed! But there is WORSE news coming for Earth | Tech News

Solar storm delayed! But there is WORSE news coming for Earth

Earlier NOAA forecasters predicted that a CME cloud could be hitting the Earth on April 27 or 28 and spark a solar storm. It has not yet arrived. But that could actually be a scary development for the Earth.

| Updated on: Apr 29 2023, 09:24 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
Solar Storm
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)
Solar Storm
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)
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Know what a delayed solar storm could mean for the Earth. (NASA/SDO)

Amazingly, astronomers are perplexed right now. A solar storm was predicted to strike the Earth on either April 27 or 28 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The storm was going to be triggered by a glancing blow from a coronal mass ejection (CME) which was headed for the Earth. But for some reason, it has not arrived yet. While this could mean that the CME missed the Earth entirely, some believe this is too early to celebrate and could mean a bigger worry for our planet. The delayed solar storm can, in theory, cause worse damage to infrastructure on Earth.

According to a SpaceWeather report, “A CME expected to hit Earth on April 27th has not yet arrived. It might have missed”. While NOAA believes there is a small chance that it can still strike today, April 29, it is not very likely. This development is unexpected since NOAA prediction models thoroughly analyze the direction, speed, and various other metrics around CME clouds to make predictions.

A delayed solar storm

So, why is it a bad news? One explanation could be that the CME cloud was devoured by a cannibal CME coming in from behind and as a result, it now has intensified the severity of the solar storm and that spells very bad news.

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Further, another reason for the delay could be that solar winds have come into play and they have shifted the cloud's direction so it is taking a longer course to reach Earth, but at the same time, the overall impact on Earth would be worse.

Of course, it might just be that the CME dissipated due to spreading out so much and the solar particles lost their energy and as a result, it missed us entirely. But it is too early to put the guard down. If the delay is caused because of CME intensification, then we should find out over the weekend and a more powerful storm will hit. If not, we should consider ourselves lucky.

The role of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

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 the 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: 29 Apr, 09:22 IST