Solar storm TERROR intensifies! Another CME headed for the Earth, double-whammy likely

The Earth is in for a rough ride the next three days between July 20-22 as two different CME clouds are expected to strike the Earth one after the other. NOAA forecast has shared details.

| Updated on: Jul 20 2023, 12:09 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 two CME clouds that are threatening the Earth with strong solar storm activity. (Pixabay)

The solar storm predictions for the week keep getting worse. After the arrival of a large and unstable sunspot on Sunday, NASA satellites detected a long-duration solar flare eruption the very next day. On Tuesday, we got confirmation from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that a fast-moving coronal mass ejection (CME) released during the event will hit the Earth on either July 20 or 21. Now, today, NOAA has detected yet another CME cloud that is also headed for our planet and can impact the magnetosphere on July 22. This has raised the concerns of astronomers, as the combined effect can create a terrifying solar storm.

According to a report by, “A second CME appears to be heading for Earth following a complex eruption near sunspot AR3376 on July 18th…It should hit Earth's magnetic field on July 22nd. The one-two punch of CMEs arriving on July 21st and 22nd boost the chances of a G2 or greater geomagnetic storm later this week”.

Yesterday's prediction also hinted at G3-class geomagnetic storm, and today's information has only solidified the chances of it.

Intense solar storm activity expected over the next three days

There are further complications as well. The one-two punch from the CMEs is the best-case scenario. However, any other solar flare eruption at that time or the presence of any solar winds also approaching the Earth can further amplify the overall effect.

In the worst-case scenario, we can witness another G4-class geomagnetic storm, similar to the one we saw on March 23, 2023. That storm was classified as severe and its impact was seen as far south as France. It was the strongest solar storm in six years and reportedly, it even delayed a SpaceX rocket launch by a few hours. Other effects of such a strong solar storm include damaging satellites and causing fluctuations in the power grids. Further, GPS disruptions and shortwave radio blackouts are also possible in such storms.

This period also comes with a high caution for mariners, drone pilots, amateur radio operators, and people working with low-frequency wireless communications, as it can disrupt reception.

Tech behind solar observation

While many space agencies from NASA with its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) keep track of Sun-based weather phenomena, one that particularly stands out is the DSCOVR satellite by NOAA. The satellite became operational in 2016 and tracks different measurements of the Sun and its atmosphere including temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared.

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First Published Date: 20 Jul, 11:25 IST
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