One of the most powerful forms of solar storms, coronal mass emission (CME), occurs when the sun ejects a cloud of charged particles and electromagnetic fluctuations.
The CME passing close to Earth today was launched into space three days ago by “strands” of interlocking magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun. Early predictions indicated that the next solar storm could trigger a so-called G1 geomagnetic storm – the smallest – but the US Space Weather Prediction Center issued no warning from G1.
The impact of the CME on Earth is expected to be minimal.
experts with spaceweather.com He said: “The coronal mass ejection will pass close to Earth and could deliver a quick blow to our planet’s magnetic field.
“Sky watchers at the North Pole should be alert to the possibility of bright aurora borealis when the CME arrives.”
The natural light from the aurora borealis and auroras appear when particles of the solar wind excite atoms in Earth’s upper atmosphere, causing them to glow.
The aurora borealis form curtains of light that follow the lines of the Earth’s magnetic field – appearing in different colors depending on which atoms are stimulated.
The two primary gases in Earth’s atmosphere are oxygen, which emits a greenish light, and nitrogen, which appears in shades of blue, pink, and purple.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — of which the Space Weather Prediction Center is a part — used the five-point G scale to classify geomagnetic storms.
A G1 storm can have minor effects on satellite operations and cause weak fluctuations in the power grid.
In turn, G5 events – the most powerful – can seriously affect satellite operations, disrupting power surges for days and disrupting high-frequency radio communications.
Fortunately, G5 solar storms usually only occur about four times in each 11-year solar cycle.
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According to a study presented by the Association for Computer Computing (ACM) sigcom Conference 2021, a solar storm the size of the Carrington event could disrupt the Internet for weeks.
Unlike telegraph lines in the Victorian era, the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet are immune to electromagnetic surges caused by solar storms.
However, the same cannot be said of signal boosters deployed along submarine cables to maintain communications over long distances.
Because they are underwater, these remote cables are not only more sensitive to the effects of space weather, but also more difficult to reach for repairs.
Astrophysicists predict that there is a 1.6 to 12% chance that a solar storm strong enough to cause catastrophic disruption in modern society will strike Earth in the next 10 years.
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