Solar Storm in Space | Reasons, Measurement, Effects and the Last Solar Storm Hit
When you hear the term “storm,” what comes to mind? Your thoughts may be filled with images of rolling dark clouds. The roar of thunder is echoing in your ears. You might be looking up at the sky for lightning bolts.
What about a solar storm, though? Would you think that the Earth is occasionally bombarded by solar storms and that you are unlikely to see or hear any of the above? Well, we are here to clear up all your doubts. So, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
●⫸ What is a Solar Storm?
A solar storm also called a geomagnetic storm is a word used to describe the atmospheric impacts felt on Earth as a result of activities on the Sun.
You probably imagine the Sun as a brilliant, constant source of light. In actuality, it’s an enormous molten gaseous ball that’s always changing.
When a solar storm hits the Earth, it typically creates a bright “northern lights” display in sections of the atmosphere visible around the Arctic Circle. Satellites and other forms of electronic communication can be disrupted by solar storms.
Solar storms are triggered by a large explosion in the Sun. Solar flares are enormous explosions that can be as enormous as billions of atomic bombs!
Solar flares are frequently accompanied by the discharge of massive jets of charged plasma traveling at millions of miles per hour. Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, are the names given to these streams.
On the other hand, we have a Geomagnetic storm.
Our magnetic field creates the Earth’s magnetosphere, which shields us from many of the particles that the sun generates. The magnetosphere is buffeted when a CME or high-speed stream hits Earth.
When the approaching solar magnetic field is directed south, it interacts strongly with the Earth’s magnetic field, which is oriented in the opposite direction.
The magnetic field of the Earth is then peeled apart like an onion, allowing energetic solar wind particles to pour down the field lines and strike the atmosphere above the poles. have a Geomagnetic storm.
A Geomagnetic storm is defined as a rapid decrease in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field at its surface. The magnetic field drops for around 6 to 12 hours before gradually recovering over several days.
●⫸ Reasons for the formation of Solar Storms
When the Sun emits massive spurts of energy in the form of solar flares and coronal mass ejections, solar storms occur. At a speed of nearly three million miles per hour, these occurrences propel a flood of electrical currents and magnetic fields toward the Earth.
Variations in the sun’s magnetic field create these massive solar storms.
When accelerated charged particles, primarily electrons, collide with the plasma medium, solar flares occur. This extraordinary acceleration of charged particles appears to be caused by magnetic reconnection, according to evidence.
Magnetic reconnection can occur on solar arcades, which are a series of loops that follow magnetic lines of force. This explains why solar flares usually emerge from the Sun’s active regions, which have significantly stronger magnetic fields
Although the origin of a flare’s energy is well known, the mechanisms that cause it are yet unknown. It’s not obvious how the particles’ magnetic energy is transformed to kinetic energy, or that some atoms can be accelerated.
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●⫸ Intensity & Measurement
A solar flare is a powerful burst of electromagnetic radiation that occurs in the Sun’s atmosphere. Flares are common in active regions, and they are frequently followed by coronal mass ejections, solar particle events, and other solar events.
A clear observable solar storm needs an energy release of around 1020 joules, whereas a large event can emit up to 1025 joules. Although they were first discovered in the visible electromagnetic spectrum, particularly in the hydrogen H-alpha emission line, they can currently be identified from radio waves to gamma rays.
There is also a device called a magnetometer that can detect minor changes in the Earth’s magnetic field induced by the solar storm. The intensity of the geomagnetic storm is measured by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s G-scale, which ranks storms from G1 to G5 with G1 being the weakest and G5 being the strongest.
Following an 11-year cycle, the frequency of solar flares fluctuates from several per day when the Sun is extremely ‘active’ to less than once per week when the Sun is ‘dormant.’ Flares of a larger size are less common than flares of a smaller size.
●⫸ When did the last solar storm hit earth?
The last solar storm that hit earth massively was said to be racing across space and was expected to reach Earth on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
Following an M1-class solar flare, a coronal mass ejection, a strong explosion near the sun’s surface, burst into space in the early hours of Saturday morning (Jan. 30).
According to the European Space Agency, M-class solar flares medium-sized space weather events that could have produced temporary radio blackouts on Earth.
According to astronomer Tony Phillips of Spaceweather.com, the burst of the last solar storm that hit the earth, which emanated from a sunspot, was particularly long-lasting, lasting more than four hours.
Spaceweather.com predicted that a G2-class geomagnetic storm could occur as a result of the CME’s arrival to Earth. It was forecasted as a moderate-class “low-hazard” geomagnetic storm.
But the breakdown and reentry of 40 SpaceX Starlink satellites that had been recently set up and were in low Earth orbit were caused by a minor solar particle and geomagnetic storm.
●⫸ What do solar storms do to earth?
Humans on Earth’s surface are unaffected by the solar storm. These storms are terrifying to contemplate, but they won’t harm our bodies as long as we stay on the surface of the Earth, where we’re protected by the atmosphere.
Remember that there’s every reason to suppose that solar storms have existed for billions of years, ever before the sun and Earth were created. If that’s the case, then they’ve had an impact on all life on Earth.
What hazard does a solar storm pose in space? Exceptionally high particles, such as those carried by CMEs, can poison humans and other mammals. Unshielded astronauts, such as those traveling to the moon, would be at risk. Large doses have the potential to be lethal.
During solar energetic particle outbursts and radiation belt enhancements, spacecraft are exposed to energetic particles, which cause brief operational anomalies, damage vital electronics, degrade solar arrays, and blind optical equipment like imagers and star trackers.
These solar storms have an impact on both human and robotic explorers throughout the solar system. Space weather events can disrupt surface-to-orbit and surface-to-surface communications.
But sometimes these geomagnetic storm and their consequences aren’t an issue for us on the ground. Solar flares are protected from our bodies by the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere.
The Sun is a dynamic star. A solar storm will occasionally erupt from the Sun, sending a minor ripple across the Earth’s magnetic field. Solar flares may appear frightening, but they are unlikely to harm the Earth.
If the Sun’s rare eruptions are particularly intense, they may reach our planet and cause damage to power grids.
Researchers have been studying the Sun for years but have yet to find out what causes these storms to erupt or how to forecast when the next one will happen. However, NASA uses satellites like SOHO to keep a close eye on our Sun in case it decides to flare up in our direction, and ongoing missions like the Parker Solar Probe will gather enough data on our host star to help scientists predict its behavior
For the time being, scientists must keep a watchful eye on our star in case it decides to meddle with our valuable technology.