A solar storm is heading towards Earth and could trigger auroras in parts of North America.
Geomagnetic storms are expected Wednesday after the Sun unleashed a coronal mass ejection (CME) on Jan. 29 — and since then, energetic material has moved toward Earth at speeds in excess of 400 miles per second.
CME is expected to arrive on February 2, 2022, and may have done so at the time of writing.
CMEs are not particularly uncommon.Their frequency varies with the Sun’s 11-year cycle, but they are observed at least weekly.However, they don’t always end up pointing towards Earth.
When they are present, CMEs have the potential to affect Earth’s magnetic field because CMEs themselves carry magnetic fields from the sun.
solar ground lights
This effect of Earth’s magnetic field could lead to stronger-than-usual auroras, but if the CME is strong enough, it can also wreak havoc on electrical systems, navigation and spacecraft.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Forecast Center (SWPC) issued an alert on Jan. 31, warning that a geomagnetic storm is expected this week from Wednesday to Thursday, with the potential to reach its strongest point on Wednesday.
The storm is expected to be a G2 or moderate storm.During a storm of this intensity, high-latitude power systems may experience voltage alerts, spacecraft ground control teams may need to take corrective action, high-frequency radios may be weakened at high latitudes, and auroras may be as low as New York and Idaho.
However, the SWPC said in its latest alert that the potential impacts of Wednesday’s storm could specifically include weak grid fluctuations and visible auroras in high latitudes such as Canada and Alaska.
CMEs are released from the Sun when the highly distorted and compressed magnetic field structure in the Sun’s atmosphere rearranges into a less strained configuration, which results in a sudden release of energy in the form of solar flares and CMEs.
While solar flares and CMEs are related, don’t confuse them.Solar flares are sudden flashes of light and high-energy particles that reach Earth within minutes.CMEs are clouds of magnetized particles that can take days to reach our planet.
Some solar storms caused by the CME are more severe than others, and the Carrington event is an example of such a very strong storm.
In the event of a G5 or “extreme” category storm, we can expect to see some grid systems completely collapse, problems with satellite communications, high-frequency radios going offline for days, and aurora as far south as Florida and Texas.
Post time: Mar-01-2022