Solar winds caused by the breakup of a vast "canyon of fire" filament on the sun will cause a small G1 geomagnetic storm today (July 20) or tomorrow (July 21).
According to SpaceWeather.com, solar filaments were initially observed as black, thread-like streaks against the brilliant backdrop of the sun on July 12. There was an eruption on the sun's surface on July 15th, carving out an approximately 238,880 mile (384,400 km) long and 12,400 miles (20,000 km) deep "canyon of fire" and hurling solar material directly at us. The eruption was caused by a filament that had snaked its way down the northern hemisphere of our star.
In the solar atmosphere, solar filaments are vast arcs of electrified gas (or plasma) that move in response to variations in the sun's strong magnetic field. Massive amounts of plasma can be held above the sun's surface by these enormous magnetic tubes, but they are very unstable, and if they collapse, they may send solar wind in the form of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) hurtling towards Earth.
In a breathtaking dance, "the long snake-like filament cartwheeled its way off the Sun," Tamitha Skov, a space weather scientist, remarked on Twitter after the explosion. It will be challenging to forecast the magnetic direction of this Earth-directed solar storm. It's possible that if the storm's magnetic field is headed southward, it might produce G2-level (perhaps G3) circumstances.
(Storms classified as G2 and G3 are moderate to intense storms.)
The CME that was released as a result of the filament's disintegration is expected to hit Earth either tonight or tomorrow morning. Solar debris from coronal mass ejections (CMEs) is absorbed by planets with strong magnetic fields, such as Earth's, resulting in intense geomagnetic storms. Storms cause the Earth's magnetic field to be somewhat squeezed, releasing energy in the form of light to produce colorful auroras comparable to those that make up the Northern Lights. These auroras are caused by waves of extremely energetic particles trickling down magnetic field lines near the poles.
It's a good thing this filament's storm isn't very strong. There may be minor disruptions to mobile devices and GPS systems due to this solar storm, which is classified as a G1 by the International Atmospheric Organization. As a result, the aurora will be seen as far south as Michigan and Maine as a result of this event as well.
According to Live Science, satellites may be thrown into the atmosphere by more violent geomagnetic storms. Scientists also have expressed concern that catastrophic geomagnetic storms might potentially damage the internet. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center, erupting debris from CMEs typically takes 15 to 18 hours to reach Earth. However, material may travel slowly and take longer to arrive, as was the case with this CME.
As the sun enters the most active period of its 11-year solar cycle, a storm like this is certain to occur. A solar storm has slammed Earth twice in the space of a day.
Sunspot activity has been rising and falling in cycles since 1775, but lately, the sun has been more active than projected by NOAA, with roughly twice the number of sunspot appearances (opens in new tab). The sun's activity is expected to rise gradually over the next several years, peaking in 2025 and then declining again in the years following. This strategy, according to the authors of an article published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics on July 20, might be used to improve solar forecasting by allowing researchers to count sunspots independently in each of the sun's hemispheres.
Carrington Event, a solar storm that occurred in 1859 and produced as much energy as 10 billion 1-megaton atomic bombs, is considered by scientists to be the greatest in recent history. An aurora brighter than the moon's brightness appeared as far south as the Caribbean when a tremendous flood of solar particles slammed into Earth's atmosphere. As in 1989, when a solar storm unleashed a billion-ton jet of plasma and knocked out power throughout all of Quebec in Canada, experts warn that a comparable occurrence today might bring billions of dollars in damage and widespread blackouts, NASA said.