Volatile Sun hurls out CME towards Earth; G2 geomagnetic storm threat looms | Tech News

Volatile Sun hurls out CME towards Earth; G2 geomagnetic storm threat looms

Sun’s rising activity resulted in a CME being hurled towards Earth a few days ago, and it could now spark a G2-class geomagnetic storm.

| Updated on: Jul 31 2023, 08:03 IST
Do all solar activities like solar storms, CME, impact Earth? This is what NASA says
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)
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)
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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NOAA forecasters have warned of a G-class geomagnetic storm impact. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng)

The Sun has been increasing its activity as we approach the solar maximum and it is expected to increase even more as we near the peak of the 11-year solar cycle. The planet has been continuously bombarded by Geomagnetic storms since the turn of the year and not a single week has gone by without one incident of solar particles hitting our atmosphere. Now, another geomagnetic storm could be on the cards as a result of a CME being hurled towards Earth by the Sun.

Risk of geomagnetic storm

According to a report by spaceweather.com, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have revealed details of a CME that was hurled out by the Sun just a few days ago. On July 28, a magnetic filament erupted in the Sun's northern hemisphere, sending a CME towards Earth. When it hits the Earth's atmosphere, it could spark a geomagnetic storm.

Thus, a G1-class geomagnetic storm could be on the cards which could escalate to a G2-class magnetic storm. According to NASA, when a solar storm interacts with Earth's magnetic field, it results in the formation of geomagnetic storms. G1-class geomagnetic storms are considered minor storms, and they generally don't cause a lot of damage. Such magnetic storms may not be strong enough to affect mobile networks or damage satellites, but they can still cause radio blackouts and disrupt GPS signals.

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Radiation storm

Shockingly, Earth is facing a double impact of a geomagnetic storm as well as protons that have been raining down on the planet. July 28's explosion also resulted in a sunspot releasing energetic protons towards Earth, known as a Radiation storm. According to the report, this storm was of S-1 intensity. Satellites on Earth recorded an M4-class solar flare but it could have been an X-class flare whose impact was partially shielded by the Sun.

Potential impact of a strong geomagnetic storm

Although some of the sunspots on the solar surface never even explode, it is important to know the potential impact of such an intense explosion of solar matter. G5-class Geomagnetic storms are the most potent geomagnetic events ever observed. These storms have the potential to disrupt all forms of wireless communication, including GPS, mobile networks, and satellite communication. These storms can even cause damage to ground-based infrastructure by harming repeaters in under-sea internet cables and blocking internet connectivity. Power grids are also susceptible to fluctuations and could potentially sustain irreversible damage.

In short, a strong enough Geomagnetic storm can send us to the dark ages in an instant.

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First Published Date: 31 Jul, 08:00 IST