Solar winds charging towards Earth! Could spark scary Geomagnetic Storm today

    High speed solar winds have been observed blowing towards the Earth. Could the planet be at risk of a geomagnetic storm?

    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Nov 21 2022, 09:54 IST
    Do all solar activities like solar storms, CME, impact Earth? This is what NASA says
    Solar flare
    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)
    Solar flare
    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)
    Solar Flare
    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)
    image caption
    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)
    Geomagnetic storm
    View all Images
    Know more about the geomagnetic storm danger faced by Earth today. (NASA)

    The Sun is nearing the middle of its 11-year solar cycle, resulting in increased solar activity and solar output. Earth has faced numerous solar flares these past few months and more are expected as the Sun moves ahead in its cycle. As a result, the planet is being bombarded with solar particles, flares and solar storms. NOAA forecasters have revealed that Earth is at risk of a geomagnetic storm.

    According to spaceweather.com, the solar winds are a result of hot gaseous material escaping from a large southern hole in the Sun's atmosphere. This hole is known as a Sunspot. The Spaceweather.com report said,” NOAA forecasters say there is a chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Nov. 20th or 21st when a high-speed stream of solar wind is expected to hit Earth. The gaseous material is flowing from a large southern hole in the sun's atmosphere. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras.”

    Effects of solar winds

    The solar winds could interact with the planet's magnetic field and cause the formation of Geomagnetic storms. When solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid are affected. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large.

    Auroras form as a result of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun which sends solar fares hurtling towards Earth. Geomagnetic storms are often the precursor to stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights.

    Did you know?

    NASA has a mission in place to study the rising solar activity of the Sun. NASA's SunRISE mission, which stands for the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment, is an upcoming mission expected to launch in 2024 to study and pinpoint how giant bursts of energetic particles originate from the Sun and evolve as they expand outward into space.

    The mission will observe low radio frequency emissions to better understand the generation of Solar Storms as well as other explosive space events. This research will help scientists forecast space weather, improve our understanding of how our Sun works, and may apply to studies of other stars.

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    First Published Date: 21 Nov, 09:53 IST
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