Science

Solar storm could launch 1.8 million mph solar winds at Earth TOMORROW

Tomorrow’s solar storm will be launched by a coronal hole, a cavity that looks like a canyon in the sun’s atmosphere. 

According to experts, solar wind – a continual stream of charged particles – could be emitted from the hole and head towards Earth at staggering speeds of up to 1.8 million miles per hour.

The solar storm could result in power grid fluctuations, orientation irregularities and even damage to spacecraft.  

The aurora borealis – also known as the Northern Lights – may also be visible in the UK’s north. 

In ultraviolet photos of the sun, you can see dark spots called coronal holes. The sun today, with the solar hole at the equator. 

What are coronal hole? 

The sun releases hot gases continuously from its surface. This steady stream of particles, most notably protons and electrons is known as the solar winds.

Coronal holes are the strongest conduits for solar wind to flow out of the sun. 

Normally, the closed loops created by magnetic field lines at sun’s surface keep gases contained. 

Coronal holes are areas where magnetic fields lines don’t wrap around themselves but instead extend straight into space. 

This opens up a channel through which the sun’s energy can flow unimpeded. 

The wind from the sun’s coronal holes can be strong. Solar wind travels at speeds around 900,000 miles an hour. But solar wind traveling through a coronalhole can travel up to 1.8 million miles an hour. 

These solar wind particles can reach Earth in two to four days depending on their speed. This can lead to small geomagnetic storms. 

Satellites in orbit around the earth can also be disturbed by high-speed winds.

Coronal holes are dark spots on ultraviolet photos of the sun.

Source: Exploratorium 

According to Space Weather LiveThe hole was found on Monday, Nov 28th and the resulting storm could reach Earth by December 1.

It said the transequatorial coronal hole – one going across the sun’s equator – was ‘detected in an Earth-facing position’. 

Spaceweather.com The solar storm was rated ‘G1’ by the Solar Storm Ratings Organization (on a scale from one to five), so although it can still cause problems for satellites and power grid fluctuations, it is considered minor. 

It says that the gaseous material comes from a canyon-like hole within the sun’s atmosphere. 

A solar storm, also known as a geomagnetic storm, is a disturbance on the Sun. 

Some of the energy and tiny particles that are generated by a solar storm can travel through the magnetic field lines between the north pole and the south poles to Earth’s atmosphere.

These particles interact with the gases in our atmosphere to produce beautiful light displays in the sky, which are known as auroras. 

Green and red light are given off by oxygen, while nitrogen glows purple and blue. 

The aurora borealis is the Earth’s northern aurora, while the Northern Lights are the aurora australis. 

According to the UK’s Met Office, aroura were observed around the north pole throughout this week.

It states that there is still a chance of visible aurora in the far north of Scotland, if the skies are clear. 

Because solar wind is constant, auroras can often be seen in Northern Europe (e.g. Norway or Iceland). 

But at some points in the sun’s 11-year cycle, more intense solar storms emit solar winds that bombard our planet, making the aurora brighter and more frequent – meaning people in the UK have better chance of seeing it. 

Coronal holes are a common feature of the sun. However, they can appear in different locations and at different times during the sun’s activity cycle.

These holes are places in the corona that the magnetic field extends into space and does not loop back to the surface. 

The magnetic fields are able to trap particles near the surface, but they can also move along these magnetic fields. The trapped particles may heat up and glow. 

The glow in the corona is darker and the coronal hole appears darker in ultraviolet images. 

The Aurora - A Natural Light Display In Earth'S Sky - May Also Be Visible In The Uk'S North. Pictured, The Northern Lights, Also Called Aurora Borealis, As Seen In The Sky Over Tromso, Norway November 2, 2022

The UK’s north may also have aurora (a natural light display in Earth’s sky) Pictured: The Northern Lights (also known as aurora borealis) seen over Tromso in Norway on November 2, 2022

Solar storms can cause severe damage  

Solar flares can cause damage to satellites and can have a huge financial impact. 

By disrupting the Earth’s magnetic field, charged particles can also be a danger to airlines.

Large flares can also cause currents in electricity grids, which can knock out power supplies. 

Coronal mass ejections that strike Earth can create enhanced aurora and geomagnetic thunderstorms. 

They can also disrupt radio waves and GPS coordinates, as well as overload electrical systems.

An enormous influx of energy could cause permanent damage to transformers and high-voltage power grids.

This could result in the closing of businesses and homes all over the globe.

Solar storms can also result from a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a massive expulsion of plasma from the sun’s corona (its outermost layer). 

As well as CMEs, such solar events include solar flares – explosions on the Sun that happens when energy stored in ‘twisted’ magnetic fields is released. 

NASA says: “There are many types of sun eruptions. Although both solar flares or coronal mass eruptions involve huge explosions, they are quite distinct. 

‘The two phenomena do sometimes occur at the same time – indeed the strongest flares are almost always correlated with coronal mass ejections – but they emit different things, they look and travel differently, and they have different effects near planets.’ 

Solar events can send particles millions of miles and some may collide with Earth.

Royal Museums Greenwich says that most particles are deflected but that some particles become trapped in the Earth’s magnet field. 

They are accelerated towards the south and north poles of the atmosphere. This is why auroras can be seen closer to the magnetic poles. 

Tom Kerss, Royal Observatory Astronomer, stated that these particles “then slam into the Earth’s atoms or molecules and essentially heat them up.” 

“Excitation” is a physical process that makes a substance glow. 

While solar storms don’t pose a danger to people living on Earth’s surfaces, they can interfere with GPS signals and power grids.  

Carrington Event, a huge geomagnetic super-storm, caused by strong CMEs that were directed toward Earth in 1859, disrupted communication on the ground. 

Aurora Over Ingolfsfjall Mountain Near Selfoss On The South Coast Of Iceland, November 28, 2022

Aurora over Ingolfsfjall mountain, near Selfoss, on the south coast Iceland. November 28, 2022

The effects on our communications systems would be devastating if such an incident were to occur in today’s world. 

A 2021 study by a University of California Irvine scientist found the internet could be crippled for weeks in the wake of a severe solar storm, due to vulnerabilities in world’s massive network of submarine communications cables.  

The fiber optic cables that form the backbone of internet can not be damaged by electromagnetic fluctuations from intense solar storms.

They do have the potential of destroying signal boosters located along undersea cable that are required to maintain connections over large distances. 

According to astrophysicists, the likelihood of solar storm capable of causing catastrophic disruption occurring in the next 10 years is between 1.6–12 per cent.   

SOLAR STORMS ARE A DIRECT DANGER TO ASTRONAUTS, AND CAN DAMAGE STELLITES

Solar stormsThe term solar activity or e.g.,’solar activity’ can be broken down into four main components That can have an impact on Earth.  

  • Solar flares: An explosion that occurs in the sun’s atmosphere. These flares are made up of photons, which travel straight from the flare site. Only solar flares that occur on Earth’s sun-facing side will have an impact on Earth.  
  • Coronal Mass Ejections, or CME’s,: Large clouds made up of plasma and magnetic fields that rise from the sun. These clouds can be directed in any direction. They then move in the same direction as solar wind, plowing through it. These clouds are only harmful to Earth when they are directed at Earth. 
  • High-speed solar wind streamsThese winds are caused by coronal holes in the sun. They can form anywhere on the sun. However, they usually impact Earth only when they’re closer to the solar Equator. 
  • Solar energetic particles: These high-energy charged particles are thought to be released primarily from shocks that occur at the front of solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Solar energetic particles are produced when a CME cloud cuts through solar wind. They can also be created because they follow the magnetic fields between the Sun, Earth, and the Moon. Only charged particles which follow magnetic fields lines that intersect Earth’s surface will be able to make an impact. 

These phenomena may appear dangerous but astronauts are not at immediate risk due to their low orbits on manned missions.

They do need to be aware of cumulative exposure from space walks.

This Photo Shows The Sun'S Coronal Holes In An X-Ray Image. The Outer Solar Atmosphere, The Corona, Is Structured By Strong Magnetic Fields, Which When Closed Can Cause The Atmosphere To Suddenly And Violently Release Bubbles Of Gas And Magnetic Fields Called Coronal Mass Ejections

This image shows the coronal holes of the sun in an xray image. The corona, the outer solar atmosphere, is composed of strong magnetic field, which can be closed and cause the atmosphere to suddenly release bubbles or tongues gas. This is known as coronal mass ejections.

Solar storms can cause severe damage 

Solar flares can cause damage to satellites and can have a huge financial impact.

By disrupting Earth’s magnetic fields, charged particles can also be a danger to airlines.

Large flares can also cause currents in electricity grids, which can knock out power supplies.

Coronal Mass Ejections are geomagnetic storms that strike Earth and enhance aurora.

They can also disrupt radio waves and GPS coordinates, as well as overload electrical systems.

A large amount of energy could be injected into high voltage power grids, causing permanent damage to transformers.

This could result in the closing of businesses and homes all over the globe. 

Source: NASA – Solar Storm and Space Weather 

Show More

Jacky

The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Related Articles

Back to top button