Solar storms have their roots in an 11-year cycle that shifts the polarity of the Sun’s magnetic field.(AP)
Solar storms have their roots in an 11-year cycle that shifts the polarity of the Sun’s magnetic field.(AP)

High-speed solar storm may hit Earth today: All you need to know

  • Due to solar storms, the outer atmosphere of the Earth can be heated which can have a direct effect on satellites.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Susmita Pakrasi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2021 12:15 PM IST

A geomagnetic storm is expected to hit the Earth's atmosphere on Monday and weather experts are keeping a close watch on it. The storm is moving towards the direction of the earth and is expected to batter parts of the planet.

According to website Spaceweather.com, the storm is approaching the Earth at a speed of 1.6 million kilometres. It originated from the Sun's atmosphere and can have a significant impact on a region of space dominated by Earth's magnetic field.

Due to solar storms, the outer atmosphere of the Earth can be heated which can have a direct effect on satellites. This can cause interference with GPS navigation, mobile phone signal and satellite TV. The current in power lines can be high, which can also blow transformers.

What do we know about solar storm?

In May this year, millions of tons of super-heated gas shot off from the surface of the sun and hurtled 90 million miles toward Earth. The eruption, called a coronal mass ejection and when it hit the Earth’s magnetic field it triggered the strongest geomagnetic storm seen for years, reported Bloomberg.

In March 1989, a solar storm over Quebec caused a province-wide outage that lasted nine hours, according to Hydro-Quebec’s website.

To head off such a catastrophe, US President Barack Obama’s administration laid out a strategy to begin raising awareness of the dangers of massive solar storms and to assess the risks they pose. Last year, President Donald Trump signed the ProSwift bill into law, which aims to build up technology to improve forecasting and measurement of space weather events.

How does a solar storm form?

Solar storms have their roots in an 11-year cycle that shifts the polarity of the Sun’s magnetic field. The magnetic forces at work on the sun get tangled during the process and can punch out through the surface, sending the sun’s plasma into outer space and potentially triggering storms on Earth.

The most powerful geomagnetic storm ever recorded resulted in the 1859 Carrington Event when telegraph lines electrified, destroying operators and setting offices ablaze in North America and Europe.

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