Sun hurls out CME towards Earth! G1-class Geomagnetic Storm to hit soon

A CME hurled out towards Earth could spark a Geomagnetic Storm on March 20-21.

| Updated on: Mar 20 2023, 09:17 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)
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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)
Geomagnetic storm
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Geomagnetic Storm caused by the dark plasma could hit Earth soon. (Pixabay)

NASA and ESA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory observes and reports any unusal solar activity occuring on the Sun's surface. Just recently, a group of Sunspots were observed emerging from a Southwestern limb of the Sun. At the moment, these Sunspots are hurling only C-class solar flares, but they would move into Earth's strike zone soon. Moreover, a Geomagnetic Storm could be on the cards which could hit Earth on March 20-21.

Geomagnetic Storm risk

According to a report by, a CME was hurled into space from the Sun on March 17 when a magnetic filament erupted on the surface of the Sun and spewed out dark plasma. Dark Plasma is formed at the core of a CME and is cooler and less luminous than the Sun. NOAA experts have modeled this scenario and predicted that it could hit Earth on March 20-21. This could also spark G1-class Geomagnetic Storm, according to the report.

The report stated, “Minor (G1-class) geomagnetic storms could happen on March 20-21 due to a possible glancing blow from an incoming CME. The CME was hurled into space on March 17th by the eruption of a magnetic filament containing dark plasma.”

Russell-McPherron effect

According to NOAA, even a weak CME impact could spark auroras due to the Russell-McPherron effect. During the Vernal Equinox, the Sun is directly above the equator, causing the day and night to be of the same duration.

As a side effect, there is semiannual variation in the effective southward component of the interplanetary field. Cracks form in the Earth's magnetic field which could allow even weak solar winds to seep through.

Effects of Geomagnetic Storm

When solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid is affected when it hits the planet's magnetic field. 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. Geomagnetic storms are also the reason behind stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

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First Published Date: 20 Mar, 09:07 IST
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