What is autumnal Equinox and how is it connected to solar storms? | Tech News

What is autumnal Equinox and how is it connected to solar storms?

As the autumnal equinox is approaching, there is a steep rise in the frequency of solar storms.

| Updated on: Jul 25 2023, 16:57 IST
Solar storms that plagued the Earth this week: Massive solar flare eruption, 2 CME strikes, more
geomagnetic storm
1/5 The week began with a minor solar storm incident on Monday, when aurora displays were seen in some high-latitude areas. The solar activity didn't stop there as another new sunspot, AR3363, that appeared to be crackling with solar flares also began moving towards Earth's view. (Pixabay)
geomagnetic storm
2/5 The very next day, the unstable region on Sun began exploding. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a massive M6-class solar flare that kept erupting for a long duration. Reportedly, it released more energy than some X-class flares. This sparked a planet-wide shortwave radio blackout. (Pixabay)
geomagnetic storm
3/5 On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prediction models confirmed that a fast-moving coronal mass ejection (CME) released during the flare eruption, and it was set to deliver a glancing blow to the Earth.  (NASA)
geomagnetic storm
4/5 NOAA declared a 3-day warning for solar storms as it confirmed that yet another CME cloud is also headed for our planet and can impact the magnetosphere on July 22. The first CME was expected to strike on Friday, July 21. (NASA SDO)
geomagnetic storm
5/5 On Friday, the first of two CME struck the Earth, delivering the second minor solar storm for the week. The second CME was expected to strike by July 22 and intensify the first ongoing storm. The resultant effect has been forecasted to even spark a G3-class geomagnetic storm. Now, the weekend appears to be a quiet one, as no further solar activity is expected. But with multiple new sunspots expected to come to the Earth's view over the weekend, the next week can be even more chaotic. (Pixabay)
geomagnetic storm
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Autumnal equinox can be the perfect period to witness beautiful auroras in the sky. (Pixabay)

Have you ever heard of Equinoxes? During this time, the Sun shines directly at the equator and the length of day and night becomes equal at all latitudes. During Equinoxes, the Earth's axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun.

There are only two times in a year when Equinoxes occur. The Equinox which occurs during the autumn, is known as the autumnal equinox. This day usually occurs in mid-September.

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Increase in solar activity

During the past week, the Earth experienced a series of impactful events caused by the Sun, including two distinct solar storms and several radio blackouts. This heightened solar activity has been among the most active since April, leading researchers to believe that the Sun is entering a phase of increased intensity as we approach the autumnal equinox in September.

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Relation between Solar storms and autumnal equinox

Since we are approaching towards autumnal equinox, solar activity is also increasing. Do you wonder, how equinoxes are causing the geomagnetic or solar storms?

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, a geomagnetic storm is caused when the direction and strength of Earth's magnetic field is observed to be varying caused by the increasing volatility in the Sun in the form of solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and the solar wind.

During equinoxes, there are two times each day when Earth's magnetic poles (north and south) are at right angles to the solar wind. This makes the solar wind stronger, which can cause stronger magnetic storms. As the seasons change, the poles either point more toward or away from the sun, which reduces this effect.

According to a report by EarthSky, Russell, and McPherron suggested that the sun has a magnetic field, also called the BZ component, and the north-south component of this field moves up and down throughout the year. This movement is similar to the way the Earth wobbles on its axis. These ups and downs of the sun's magnetic field are the biggest during the equinoxes. sometimes, the sun releases a stream of charged particles called solar wind. When this solar wind's north-south direction is opposite to Earth's north-south magnetic field, it can lead to geomagnetic storms. These storms can cause beautiful auroras to appear in the sky. It can also impact satellites and the power grids adversely

How the autumnal equinox is going to affect the earth this time is still unclear though. The signs have already started to show up.


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First Published Date: 25 Jul, 16:54 IST