Solar storm to strike Earth at a scary 3.6 million mph! May spark geomagnetic storm

Strong blast of plasma erupted from the Sun and the solar storm is now heading towards Earth at a speed of 3.6 million kmph. It is expected to trigger a geomagnetic storm.

| Updated on: May 12 2023, 11:00 IST
Best NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Aurora, Green flash sunset, Nebula and more
image caption
1/5 Geomagnetic storm sparks auroras (March 27) - Millions of people in the US witnessed the magnificent Northern Lights triggered by a strong geomagnetic storm, which served as the catalyst. Even NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 27 is dedicated to a mesmerizing view of an Aurora over the Arctic. (NASA/Cari Letelier)
Green flash sunset
2/5 Rare Green Flash Sunset (March 28) - It is a fascinating snapshot of a multiple green flash sunset captured from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile last April. As the Sun sets on the horizon and disappears from view during sunset, sometimes a green flash may appear. (NASA/T. Slovinský/P. Horálek/CTIO)
Dolphin nebula
3/5 Dolphin-Head Nebula (March 29) - It is the Dolphin-Head nebula, located about 5000 light-years away from Earth towards the constellation of Canis Major, also known as the Big Dog. This weirdly fascinating nebula is about 70000 years old and spans almost 60 light-years across, as per NASA. The Dolphin-Head nebula has been catalogued as Sh2-308. (NASA/Aleix Roig (AstroCatInfo))
 Globular Star Cluster NGC 6355
4/5 Globular star cluster and Dark Doodad Nebula (March 30) - It is the Dark Doodad Nebula which lies beside the globular star cluster NGC 4372. Also known as Caldwell 108, the globular star cluster is located about 19000 light-years away in the constellation Musca. It was discovered in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop from his observation post in Australia. (NASA/ESA/Hubble Telescope)
5/5 Saturn's Moon Titan (March 31) - It is a snapshot showing 6 faces of Titan. Titan has a radius of about 2575 kilometers and is nearly 50 percent wider than Earth's moon. Saturn's icy moon is about 1.2 million kilometers away from Saturn, which itself is about 1.4 billion kilometers from the Sun. (NASA/ESA/VIMS Team)
Solar storm
View all Images
A powerful burst of plasma is set to hit Earth at any time and it will trigger a geomagnetic storm. (NASA SDO)

A powerful burst of plasma, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), is set to hit Earth at any time. It is travelling at an incredible speed of 3.6 million kilometres per hour through the inner planets. The solar storm will have many consequences for Earth.

When the CME collides with Earth's magnetic field, it is likely to cause a G3-class geomagnetic storm. This could lead to vibrant auroras in the sky.

The impact of a CME on Earth depends on several factors, such as its speed, direction, and magnetic fields. If the CME is directed towards Earth and its magnetic fields align with Earth's, the impact can be more severe.

The plasma blast erupted from the Sun on May 9, and a large part of it is aimed at Earth.

Geomagnetic storms occur when the CME's magnetic fields interact with Earth's magnetic field. This collision causes rapid changes in Earth's magnetic field, generating electrical currents in the ionosphere and on the Earth's surface.

These electrical currents can disrupt satellite communications, and power grids, and create auroras in the polar regions.

The US-based Space Weather Prediction Center has forecasted a strong geomagnetic storm for the day. They mentioned that satellite components may experience surface charging, low-Earth-orbit satellites might face increased drag, and adjustments may be necessary for orientation.

The plasma has already been reaching Earth over the past two days, moving at speeds close to the speed of light. The geomagnetic storm could be triggered at any time. The centre also warned about possible intermittent problems with satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation due to the storm.

Solar activity has been increasing rapidly as the Sun approaches its maximum phase. The Sun undergoes a natural cycle called the solar cycle every approximately 11 years, which affects space weather. This cycle brings about solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and other phenomena.

During the solar maximum, the Sun's magnetic field is most active, resulting in a higher number of sunspots on its surface.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 12 May, 09:58 IST
keep up with tech