Solar storm today! Shocking CME catches NOAA by surprise; Know the DANGER to Earth

An unexpected CME cloud has been detected by the NOAA DSCOVR satellite and it is very close to the Earth. The resultant solar storm should strike our planet in a few hours.

| Updated on: May 06 2023, 09:40 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
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)
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)
solar storm today
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Know all about the solar storm that is about to hit the Earth today, May 6. (Pixabay)

The explosions on the Sun are not showing any signs of slowing down as we enter the third day of solar flare eruptions. Yesterday, multiple coronal mass ejection (CME) clouds were detected by NASA which were moving in different directions, although none were reported to be coming towards the Earth. But that did not last long. A few hours earlier today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detected a large CME cloud sweeping past its DSCOVR satellite. This CME was not detected earlier and comes as a complete shock. Know how dangerous it is likely to be.

According to a report by SpaceWeather, “An unexpected CME just swept across NOAA's DSCOVR spacecraft and it will soon hit Earth's magnetic field. The impact could spark G1 to G2-class geomagnetic storms with high-latitude auroras”. The report also claimed that this event is separate from the earlier predicted weekend solar storm, which is still set to arrive between May 7-8.

Unexpected solar storm to hit the Earth

This week has been plagued with solar disturbances. At the beginning of the week, the Earth suffered a shortwave radio blackout owing to a large solar flare eruption. Then, a sunspot complex turned unstable and began firing solar flares which resulted in a rolling series of blackouts that majorly affected the African continents. On day three of the high solar activity, a geomagnetic storm is set to strike the Earth. And yet another storm will strike the Earth tomorrow.

And things can still get worse if the sunspot complex continues to blast solar flares and release CME clouds. Any of them can turn into a cannibal CME and absorb the nearby clouds to deliver an intense solar storm to Earth. Such solar storms can damage satellites, disrupt mobile networks, internet services and GPS signals, cause power grid failures and even corrupt sensitive electronics on Earth.

NOAA's DSCOVR satellite's role in solar storm monitoring

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: 06 May, 09:39 IST
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