Nasa warns, a 'perfect storm' is expected hit Earth tomorrow
Geomagnetic storms could enhance aurora and be visible in lower latitudes. Possible collision between CME and Earth by late November 25.
The sun is experiencing a surge of activity, with many sunspots appearing on its surface and releasing hot plasma into space.
Sunspots are dark spots on the sun where the magnetic field is very strong. They can produce coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are huge clouds of plasma that are ejected from the sun at high speeds.
sun can also emit solar flares, which are intense flashes of electromagnetic radiation.
“Solar flares and CME are both caused by the sun through its magnetic field being twisted and stressed through motions in the sun,” Daniel Brown, an associate professor in astronomy and science communication at Nottingham Trent University in the U.K., told Newsweek.
“However, a solar flare is the immense release of light triggered by the snapping and rearranging of the magnetic fields on the sun. That will go hand in hand typically with the release of a CME. But it will take a day or more for the particles to arrive while the light and radiation reaches us in just over 8 minutes. So a good comparison is that a flare is the flash of a muzzle while the CME is actually the cannonball traveling and possibly hitting us.”
In the past week, the number of sunspots has increased by a factor of 10, and several CMEs have been launched every day. One of these CMEs may be on a collision course with Earth, according to a NASA model, and could reach our planet by late November 25. This will be confirmed after scientists analyze the paths of the storms.
When a CME hits the Earth, it can cause a geomagnetic storm, which is a disturbance of the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere by the solar plasma.
“A geomagnetic storm occurs when the Earth’s magnetic field is seriously disrupted by eruptions from the sun,” Huw Morgan, head of the Solar Physics group at Aberystwyth University in the U.K., quoted to Newsweek.
“When a large plasma storm erupts from the sun, and that storm carries a magnetic field which is oriented in an opposite direction to Earth’s magnetic field, we have a ‘perfect storm,’ and a larger geomagnetic storm.”
Geomagnetic storms can have different levels of intensity, ranging from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme), according to NOAA. The strongest storms are very rare: for every 11-year solar cycle, there may be 1700 G1 storms, 100 G4 storms, and only 4 G5 storms.
One of the effects of a geomagnetic storm is the enhancement of the aurora, which is the colorful display of lights in the sky near the poles. The aurora is caused by the interaction of charged particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with gases like nitrogen and oxygen, which make them glow.
“Under quiet conditions, charged particles (both from the solar wind and the ionosphere) can become trapped in the magnetosphere, happily bouncing from hemisphere-to-hemisphere, pole-to-pole. Under these circumstances, some of these charged particles will collide with upper atmospheric particles, causing auroras in the polar regions,” Brett Carter, an associate professor in space science at RMIT University in Australia, told Newsweek.the outlet.
However, when a CME arrives and triggers a geomagnetic storm, these particles are pushed deeper into the atmosphere, where they collide with more gases and create a brighter and wider aurora. This means that the aurora can be seen in lower latitudes than usual, depending on the strength of the storm.