A powerful burst of plasma, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), is set to hit Earth at any time. It is travelling at an incredible speed of 3.6 million kilometres per hour through the inner planets. The solar storm will have many consequences for Earth.
When the CME collides with Earth’s magnetic field, it is likely to cause a G3-class geomagnetic storm. This could lead to vibrant auroras in the sky.
The impact of a CME on Earth depends on several factors, such as its speed, direction, and magnetic fields. If the CME is directed towards Earth and its magnetic fields align with Earth’s, the impact can be more severe.
The plasma blast erupted from the Sun on May 9, and a large part of it is aimed at Earth.
Geomagnetic storms occur when the CME’s magnetic fields interact with Earth’s magnetic field. This collision causes rapid changes in Earth’s magnetic field, generating electrical currents in the ionosphere and on the Earth’s surface.
These electrical currents can disrupt satellite communications, and power grids, and create auroras in the polar regions.
The US-based Space Weather Prediction Center has forecasted a strong geomagnetic storm for the day. They mentioned that satellite components may experience surface charging, low-Earth-orbit satellites might face increased drag, and adjustments may be necessary for orientation.
The plasma has already been reaching Earth over the past two days, moving at speeds close to the speed of light. The geomagnetic storm could be triggered at any time. The centre also warned about possible intermittent problems with satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation due to the storm.
Solar activity has been increasing rapidly as the Sun approaches its maximum phase. The Sun undergoes a natural cycle called the solar cycle every approximately 11 years, which affects space weather. This cycle brings about solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and other phenomena.
During the solar maximum, the Sun’s magnetic field is most active, resulting in a higher number of sunspots on its surface.
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