Solar flare triggers mild solar storm warnings this weekend

Severe geomagnetic storms are possible in the coming days as the Earth’s magnetic field is bombarded by the solar storm cloud.

Forecasters expect the strongest solar storm to hit sometime on Friday (July 22) at 8:00 pm ET (July 23, 00:00 GMT) and into the early morning hours of Saturday (July 23). During this time, a full halo coronal mass ejection or CME will reach the Earth’s magnetic field. The forecasts note that the auroras can be seen much farther from the poles than their usual latitudes.

The CME causing this space weather was observed on Thursday (July 21), according to the statement. (will open in a new tab) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center. CMEs are bursts of charged particles ejected from the solar atmosphere or corona. When these particles interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, they can create breathtaking aurora borealis, but they can also cause minor damage to electrical grids or disrupt spacecraft and satellite communications.

On the subject: The strongest solar storms in history

It is reported by (will open in a new tab) that the impending space weather storms were caused by an explosion in sunspot AR3060, which triggered a solar flare. Images taken by the Solar Ultraviolet Imager aboard NOAA’s GOES-16 meteorological satellite show a large flare just above the Sun’s equator.

Animation of a large solar flare erupting from the surface of the Sun.

Animation of a large solar flare erupting from the surface of the Sun, taken with the NOAA Solar Ultraviolet Thermal Imager aboard the GOES-16 satellite. (Image credit: NOAA)

In North America, a storm can bring auroras as far south as Illinois or Oregon, while in the United Kingdom they can be seen from the north of Scotland. In addition, radio propagation can be disrupted at high latitudes, including as far south as New York and Idaho in the United States, and as far north as the United Kingdom. Some migrating animals may even be harmed because some animals use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate.

According to NOAA forecast (will open in a new tab)the storm will approach levels G1 (minor) and G2 (moderate).

This means that a solar storm could affect electrical infrastructure at high latitudes and possibly even damage a transformer if sustained high-intensity storms occur. A spacecraft in orbit may also experience changes in drag and may require ground controllers to change their orientation.

The current storm occurs as solar activity continues to increase as part of a regular 11-year solar cycle. After several years of quiet sun, flares and CMEs are becoming more frequent ahead of the peak of this solar cycle, which is predicted to occur in 2025.

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