Earth’s magnetic field was hit last Sunday by an unexpected solar storm flow that reached speeds of 600 kilometers per second. NASA’s Deep Space Weather Observatory (DSCOVR) detected light currents of solar wind, which increased significantly and unexpectedly throughout the day. Registration took place last Sunday (7).
The cause of this solar storm is still unknown. Two hypotheses have been put forward to fill this gap: it is thought that an equatorial hole in the solar atmosphere, detected two days after the storm, could be involved in this phenomenon; or it could simply have been a random coronal mass ejection (CME).
Scientists are trying to monitor our star’s “coronal holes” to predict when a “coronal mass ejection” (CME) will occur and how powerful it will be. This time it was unpredictable and as a result unexpected auroras were seen here on Earth. Particularly in 2022, there have been many solar storms as the Sun is in the active phase of its 11-year solar cycle. Earth has been hit by CMEs from giant coronal holes more than 2.5 times the size of Earth.
This type of event is relatively common and occurs when a stream of highly energetic particles and plasma cannot be contained by the Sun’s gravity and eventually explode towards Earth. According to Space Weather, “The active sun these days produces so many small outbursts that it’s easy to ignore the fainter CMEs heading towards Earth. Fortunately, thanks to our planet’s atmosphere, the solar wind did not damage telecommunications satellites or power grids. This coronal mass ejection was classified as moderate G2 (on a scale of G1 to G5, G1 being the lightest and G5 the strongest).
Solar storms and the cycle
The storm is the result of the current solar cycle, considered quite intense by experts. Each time the magnetic poles of the sun reverse, a new solar cycle begins. This process occurs approximately every 11 years and is closely monitored by space agencies as it can determine the durability of technologies sent into space and even the health of astronauts.
The current cycle started in December 2019, and before that we were in a fairly quiet period, as the previous cycle was considered quiet, with a small amount of solar wind being expelled from the star at the center of our system. However, the current cycle is considered more intense and since October last year the sun has been blowing out more wind and generating sunspots and solar flares more frequently.
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