Solar eruptions expected to hit Earth today; geomagnetic storm to be triggered
The forecast is based on the data collected by Solar and Heliospheric Observatory mission’s Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph. The Center of Excellence in Space Sciences said that a filament eruption was observed on the Sun south of disk center on February 6.
Earth is set to be hit by a fresh solar eruption on Wednesday and Thursday, that could trigger a geomagnetic storm, researchers have said. This comes just a week after a similar moderate geomagnetic storm was triggered by the powerful eruptions hurtled by the Sun towards the Earth.
According to tweets by the Center of Excellence in Space Sciences (CESS) under the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, a filament eruption was observed on the Sun south of disk center on February 6. The eruption was recorded by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission’s Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO), said CESS.
SOHO is a joint mission by Nasa and the European Space Agency launched in 1995 to study the Sun. It routinely identifies the coronal mass ejections.
The CESS further said that the Earth will be impacted by the moderate geomagnetic storm in the range 451-615 kilometres per second from February 9 (05:48 UT) to February 10 (09:53 UT), which translates to 11.18am IST on February 9 to 3.23pm IST on February 10.
“The impact is unlikely to be very hazardous. Moderate geomagnetic storms are likely,” the CESS further said on Twitter.
The solar storm could also touch off geomagnetic activity that could make the Northern Lights visible.
What is a geomagnetic storm?
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), a geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance in Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding the planet.
These storms - triggered by powerful blasts of radiation called solar flare - can disrupt some high-frequency radio broadcasts and low-frequency navigation. They also produce major changes in currents, plasma and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere.
The solar wind conditions that are effective for creating geomagnetic storms are sustained (for several to many hours) periods of high-speed solar wind.
What is coronal mass ejection (CME)?
This is a large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona. CMEs travel outward from the Sun at speeds ranging from slower than 250 kilometers per second (km/s) to as fast as near 3000 km/s. The fastest Earth-directed CMEs can reach our planet in as little as 15-18 hours. Slower CMEs can take several days to arrive.