Solar storm Fire Canyon is approaching us, but we should not panic

(ORDO NEWS) — Solar winds created by the rupture of a giant “fire canyon” on the Sun will hit Earth today (July 20) or tomorrow (July 21), triggering a weak G1 geomagnetic storm.

On July 12, solar observers first noticed solar filaments as dark filamentous lines against the Sun’s bright background, according to

Then, on July 15, our star’s northern hemisphere exploded, creating a “fire canyon” approximately 238,880 miles (384,400 kilometers) long and 12,400 miles (20,000 km) deep on the surface of the Sun and spewing solar material directly at us.

Solar filaments are huge arcs of electrified gas (or plasma) that weave through the Sun’s atmosphere at the whim of the star’s powerful magnetic field.

These giant magnetic tubes can hold huge masses of plasma above the surface of the Sun, but they are also highly unstable – and once they collapse, they can launch explosive jets of solar wind called coronal mass ejections (CMEs) rushing towards Earth.

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“A long snake-like thread rolled from the Sun in a stunning ballet,” Tamita Skov, a space weather physicist, tweeted after the eruption.

“The magnetic orientation of this Earth-bound solar storm will be difficult to predict. G2 (possibly G3) level conditions could occur if the magnetic field of this storm is directed south!”

(G2 and G3 storms are considered moderate and severe, respectively.)

The CME ejected by the filament collapse should crash into the Earth today or tomorrow. On planets with strong magnetic fields, like ours, our magnetic field absorbs a flurry of solar debris from the CME, causing powerful geomagnetic storms.

Solar storm Fire Canyon is approaching us but we should not panic 2
Rupture of the solar filament in the northern hemisphere of the Sun

During these storms, the Earth’s magnetic field is slightly compressed by waves of high-energy particles that bleed along magnetic field lines near the poles and excite molecules in the atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light to create colorful auroras like those that make up the northern lights.

Fortunately, the storm from this thread is weak. Classified as a G1 solar storm, it could cause fluctuations in power grids and affect some satellite functions, including those for mobile devices and GPS systems, but not significantly. It will also bring aurora as far south as Michigan and Maine.

More extreme geomagnetic storms could disrupt our planet’s magnetic field severely enough to cause satellites to fall to Earth, Live Science previously reported, and scientists have warned that extreme geomagnetic storms could even bring down the Internet.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center, erupting CME debris typically takes 15 to 18 hours to reach Earth, but it can, like this coronal ejection, move slower and take longer to arrive.

This storm comes as the Sun enters the most active phase of its roughly 11-year solar cycle. This is the second solar storm to hit Earth in the last 24 hours.

Astronomers have known since 1775 that solar activity cycles up and down, but recently the Sun has been more active than expected, with sunspot occurrences nearly double the NOAA forecast.

The activity of the Sun is predicted to increase steadily over the next few years, reaching a general maximum in 2025 and then decreasing again.

An article published July 20 in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics proposes a new model for solar activity by separately counting sunspots in each hemisphere. The researchers claim that this method can be used to make more accurate predictions of solar activity.

Scientists believe that the largest solar storm ever seen in modern history was the Carrington event of 1859, which released about the same amount of energy as 10 billion 1-megaton atomic bombs.

After hitting the Earth, a powerful shower of solar particles fried telegraph systems around the world and caused auroras brighter than the light of a full moon to extend as far south as the Caribbean Sea.

Scientists warn that if such an event were to occur today, it would cause trillions of dollars in damage and cause massive power outages, similar to the 1989 solar storm that released a billion tons of plasma and caused power outages throughout the Canadian province of Quebec, NASA said.


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