On Sunday, Earth’s magnetic field was thrown off by a stream of solar wind that reached speeds of more than 600 kilometers (372 miles) per second.
While that’s nothing too alarming, solar storms they often hit our planet causing spectacular auroras; the strange thing is that this storm was totally unexpected.
Solar wind occurs when a stream of highly energized particles and plasma can no longer be held by the Sun’s gravity and bursts toward Earth.
There’s a lot We still don’t know how our Sun worksBut these emissions are thought to come from large bright patches on the Sun known as “coronal holes” and scientists do a great job of monitoring them from here on Earth.
Through this monitoring, they can create space weather ‘forecasts’ that not only predict when solar storms or solar flares, also known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), are headed our way, but also how powerful they will be.
But that doesn’t mean that we I still can’t be surprised as we did the weekend.
early Sunday, NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) noted slight currents of solar wind, which increased significantly and unexpectedly throughout the day.
The cause of this solar storm is still unknown, but SpaceWeather speculates that it could have been the early arrival of solar wind expected to come from an equatorial hole in the Sun’s atmosphere two days later.
Or it could have been a stray coronal mass ejection (CME).
“A discontinuity in the solar wind data at 0045 UT on 2 Aug 7 hints at a shock wave embedded in the solar wind,” Space Weather writes.
“These days, the active sun is producing so many smaller outbursts that it’s easy to miss the faint CMEs headed for Earth.”
At the time of this writing, high-speed solar wind continues to pummel Earth’s magnetic field, with records showing the speed reaching 551.3 kilometers (343 miles) per second as of August 9, 0406. UTC (0006 ET).
The good news is that the solar wind is not harming us here on Earth, safely protected by our planet’s atmosphere.
These winds were classified as a moderate G2 solar storm – storms are classified as G1 at the lower end of the scale all the way up to G5, which is a powerful solar storm.
G2 storms can affect high-latitude power systems and could affect spacecraft orbit predictions, according to space weather.
If you feel that all this sounds familiar to you, it is because we have witnessed many solar storms this year, with the Sun now in its active phase. 11 year solar cycle.
Unless you’re an avid aurora watcher, that is.
“I was already in bed getting ready to sleep when the storm started,” astrophotographer Ruslan Merzlyakov told space weather.
“Running to the beach in Nykøbing Mors, I was able to photograph the first summer auroras in Denmark in 5 years.”
Who knows what the rest of the week will bring.