Solar storm scare: Cannibal CME misses Earth, but X1-class solar flare sparks blackouts | Tech News

Solar storm scare: Cannibal CME misses Earth, but X1-class solar flare sparks blackouts

Even as the Earth made a miraculous escape from the dangerous cannibal CME, another X-class solar flare has sparked blackouts on Earth. Fears for a new solar storm has also risen after the event.

| Updated on: Aug 09 2023, 14:08 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
Solar flare
1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
Solar flare
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
Solar flare
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
Solar flare
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
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5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
Solar flare
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Know all about the solar flare explosion on the Sun and find out if another solar storm is headed for the Earth. (Pixabay)

The last 24 hours were quite frightening for the Earth, as major solar storm prediction models said that a highly energized cannibal CME could deliver a glancing blow to the Earth today, August 9. However, it never came, leading the scientists to believe that the CME narrowly escaped the planet. Investigations are still ongoing to see whether the CME could have been delayed. However, there is some bad news as well. In the early hours of August 8, another X1-class solar flare erupted and sparked a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean. Concerns are now rising on whether it will also send another CME towards our planet.

A report from stated that the cannibal CME might have missed the Earth. It stated, “It was never expected to be a direct hit. NOAA models suggested that only the flank of the CME might graze Earth's magnetic field, so a miss comes as no surprise. A late arrival is also possible”. As a result, there is still a minor solar storm watch for the rest of August 9, although any activity from the CME is unlikely.

X1-class solar flare sparks solar storm fears

Now, moving to the second incident, in the late hours of August 7/early hours of August 8, the departing sunspot AR3386 exploded one last time, erupting a massive X1-class solar flare that was detected by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The extreme ultraviolet radiation sparked a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean and large parts of the US and Canada. To make matters worse, a powerful CME was also seen escaping the eruption region. Although the initial forecast claims that the trajectory is outside Earth's strike zone, we will only know in the days to come.

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Considering the intensity of the CME, if it does strike the Earth, it can result in a geomagnetic storm of G2 to G3 intensity. A storm like that can damage small satellites, impact mobile networks, and GPS, and even pose a threat to ground-based electronics and power grids by increasing the magnetic potential by huge amounts.

What does the NOAA's DSCOVR satellite do

NOAA monitors 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: 09 Aug, 13:48 IST