The explosions on the Sun are not showing any signs of slowing down as we enter the third day of solar flare eruptions. Yesterday, multiple coronal mass ejection (CME) clouds were detected by NASA which were moving in different directions, although none were reported to be coming towards the Earth. But that did not last long. A few hours earlier today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detected a large CME cloud sweeping past its DSCOVR satellite. This CME was not detected earlier and comes as a complete shock. Know how dangerous it is likely to be.
According to a report by SpaceWeather, “An unexpected CME just swept across NOAA’s DSCOVR spacecraft and it will soon hit Earth’s magnetic field. The impact could spark G1 to G2-class geomagnetic storms with high-latitude auroras”. The report also claimed that this event is separate from the earlier predicted weekend solar storm, which is still set to arrive between May 7-8.
Unexpected solar storm to hit the Earth
This week has been plagued with solar disturbances. At the beginning of the week, the Earth suffered a shortwave radio blackout owing to a large solar flare eruption. Then, a sunspot complex turned unstable and began firing solar flares which resulted in a rolling series of blackouts that majorly affected the African continents. On day three of the high solar activity, a geomagnetic storm is set to strike the Earth. And yet another storm will strike the Earth tomorrow.
And things can still get worse if the sunspot complex continues to blast solar flares and release CME clouds. Any of them can turn into a cannibal CME and absorb the nearby clouds to deliver an intense solar storm to Earth. Such solar storms can damage satellites, disrupt mobile networks, internet services and GPS signals, cause power grid failures and even corrupt sensitive electronics on Earth.
NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite’s role in solar storm monitoring
NOAA monitors solar storms and Sun’s behavior using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The different measurements are done on temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation, and frequency of the solar particles.
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