(ORDO NEWS) — On Sunday, a stream of solar wind hit the Earth‘s magnetic field, reaching speeds of more than 600 kilometers (372 miles) per second.
While it’s not too alarming – solar storms often hit our planet, causing spectacular auroras – it’s strange that this storm was completely unexpected.
“This event was not in the forecast, so the auroras that arose were a surprise,” SpaceWeather reports.
The solar wind occurs when a stream of high-energy particles and plasma can no longer be held by the Sun’s gravity and rushes towards the Earth.
We still don’t know much. are aware of how our Sun works, but these ejecta are thought to come from large bright spots on the Sun known as “coronal holes” and scientists are doing a lot of work observing them from here on Earth.
Through this monitoring, they can create space weather “predictions” that not only predict when solar storms or solar flares, also known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), are approaching us, but also how powerful they will be.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to wonder how we did this weekend.
The cause of this solar storm is still unknown. , but SpaceWeather suggests it could have been an early arrival of the solar wind, expected to come from an equatorial hole in the Sun’s atmosphere two days later.
Or it could have been a missed coronal mass ejection (CME).
“A break in the solar wind data at 00:45 UT on August 7 hints at a shock wave embedded in the solar wind,” writes Space Weather.
“The active Sun is producing so many small explosions these days that it’s easy to miss faint CMEs heading toward Earth.”
At the time of writing, the high-speed solar wind continued to slam into the Earth’s magnetic field, and records show speeds of up to 551.3 kilometers (343 miles) per second as of Aug 9 04:06 UTC (00:06 ET).
The good news is that the solar wind does not harm you. here on Earth, safely protected by our planet’s atmosphere.
However, when strong, it can interfere with our technology, causing problems with telecommunications satellites and, in extreme cases, the power grid.
These winds were classified as a moderate G2 solar storm. – storms are rated as G1 at the lowest end of the scale down to G5, which is a powerful solar storm.
G2 storms can affect high latitude energy systems and could impact space weather forecasts of spacecraft orbit.
If you think this all sounds familiar, it’s because we have seen many solar storms this year as the Sun is now in the active phase of its 11 year solar cycle.
Already this year we have been hit by X-class flares and giant coronal holes more than 2.5 times the size of the Earth. Most of the time you didn’t even know it was happening.
Unless you’re an avid aurora watcher.
Fortunately, followers of the Space Weather Alert Service were notified of the unpredictable storm and were able to see a powerful aurora emerging and Steve visible as far south as Pennsylvania.
“I was already in bed getting ready for bed when the storm started,” astrophotographer Ruslan Merzlyakov told Space Weather.
“Hurrying to the beach in Nykøbing Mors, I was able to photograph the first summer auroras in Denmark in 5 years.”
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