Solar storm strike possible soon, as solar wind stream rushes towards Earth; NASA reveals its origin

A new forecast predicts a solar storm on Earth on October 30, as a stream of high-velocity solar winds is moving towards our planet. The solar storm is coming from a large hole on the Sun, as shown by NASA SDO.

| Updated on: Oct 28 2023, 09:33 IST
Do all solar activities like solar storms, CME, impact Earth? This is what NASA says
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1/5 Sun is a source of energy and a lot of activities keep on happening on the fireball. But can Earth be impacted by solar activities? Before we tell you that, it is important to know what solar activity is? According to NASA, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, high-speed solar wind, and solar energetic particles are all forms of solar activity. All solar activity is driven by the solar magnetic field. (NASA)
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2/5 Solar flares impact Earth only when they occur on the side of the sun facing Earth. Because flares are made of photons, they travel out directly from the flare site, so if we can see the flare, we can be impacted by it. (Pixabay)
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3/5 Coronal mass ejections, also called CMEs, are large clouds of plasma and magnetic field that erupt from the sun. These clouds can erupt in any direction, and then continue on in that direction, plowing right through the solar wind. Only when the cloud is aimed at Earth will the CME hit Earth and therefore cause impacts. (NASA)
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4/5 High-speed solar wind streams come from areas on the sun known as coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the sun and usually, only when they are closer to the solar equator, do the winds they produce impact Earth. (NASA)
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5/5 Solar energetic particles are high-energy charged particles, primarily thought to be released by shocks formed at the front of coronal mass ejections and solar flares. When a CME cloud plows through the solar wind, high velocity solar energetic particles can be produced and because they are charged, they must follow the magnetic field lines that pervade the space between the Sun and the Earth. Therefore, only the charged particles that follow magnetic field lines that intersect the Earth will result in impacts. (NASA)
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Know all about the solar storm that is expected to hit the Earth early next week. (NASA/SDO)

Just a couple of days ago, a sneaky solar storm struck the Earth, sparking auroras in the Arctic Circle. The reason for the storm was not known since no coronal mass ejection (CME) was expected to hit the planet. It turned out that a crack opened up in the magnetosphere, allowing solar radiation to easily pass through. Now, another similar incident is on the cards, only at a much higher intensity. A massive hole has opened up on the Sun this time which is releasing a stream of solar winds. It is expected to reach the Earth on October 30, when it can trigger a solar storm, as per the forecast. The NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory images show the hole through which solar winds are escaping.

According to a report by SpaceWeather, “Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are likely on Oct. 30th when a solar wind stream is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. The gaseous material is flowing from a double-lobed hole in the sun's atmosphere”. A short video of the Sun, from the exact moment when solar winds escaped its surface, can be seen in the opening seconds of this NASA video.

Solar storm could hit the Earth on Monday

The forecast has predicted a G1-class storm, which essentially means that it will spark auroras and can cause disruptions for some radio waves, resulting in likely disruption of communication for mariners, aviators, drone pilots, and amateur radio operators.

However, that is not the full extent of what solar storms can do. In worst cases, such storms can disrupt GPS and mobile networks, hamper internet connectivity, damage satellites, cause power grid failures, and even corrupt ground-based electronics.

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: 28 Oct, 09:32 IST