News Net Nebraska

Complete News World

Earth prepares for the arrival of a powerful solar storm – Space and Astronomy

Earth prepares for the arrival of a powerful solar storm – Space and Astronomy

A strong solar storm is about to hit the Earth, and the most important effects are expected on Saturday, the 11th of this month. The Space Weather Prediction Center of the American NOAA has raised the forecast level for the storm to G4, which is the second highest level on the scale. It involves impacts on the power grid, on satellite navigation systems such as GPS and problems with satellites and spacecraft, as well as the greater possibility of being able to enjoy the Northern Lights even at low latitudes.

“The storm could start today and continue tomorrow,” Mauro Misserotti, a professor of space meteorology at the University of Trieste, told ANSA. “But solar activity will remain intense in the coming period as well, as we are approaching the peak.” In fact, the last G4 storm occurred less than two months ago, on March 23, 2024.

A solar or geomagnetic storm is a disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field, affected by high-energy particles emitted by the Sun that make the outer layer of the atmosphere electrically charged. Because of this phenomenon, radio waves transmitted in these areas lose their energy due to their frequent collision with electrons, and this causes their deterioration or even complete absorption.

The upcoming storm is due to the intense activity of a giant group of sunspots, called AR3664, which extends for about 200,000 km, or approximately 16 times the size of the Earth. It is one of the largest and most active regions observed in this solar cycle, which began in December 2019. “The region is characterized by great complexity, with very intense magnetic fields causing a particularly unstable situation. It is very large – says Misserotti – which could… It can also be seen with the naked eye, while always providing adequate protection.”

See also  Between Space and Time: The Art of Olafur Eliasson at Strozzi Palace

Sunspot AR3664, compared to the size of Earth (Source: Mauto Messerotti, University of Trieste)

Meanwhile, amateur astronomers also mobilized to photograph the phenomenon, such as Franco Fantasia of Gruppo Astrofili Palidoro, who managed to capture a photo of the enormous cluster of sunspots.

Sunspot cluster AR3664 (Source: Franco Fantasia, Grupo Astrophili Palidoro)

The extension of AR3664 can be compared to that of another large sunspot cluster, the Carrington Cluster, which made its effects felt most acutely between August and September 1859: during that period, the region unleashed a series of powerful solar flares (violent eruptions that release the energy equivalent of several tens of millions of bombs). Atomic) and coronal mass ejections, the so-called CME (plasma-shaped matter emission), which caused fires in telegraph offices and sparked auroras near the equator.

In recent days, the AR3664 sunspot cluster has unleashed several powerful solar flares: on May 9, in particular, it produced two of the 44. Both of these events are associated with coronal mass ejections heading toward our planet. Added to this are three Cme created between May 8 and 9, which are always expected to arrive by May 11. “In total, five centimeters are heading towards the Earth. If they merge with each other, this will obviously make the geomagnetic storm more intense, but it is impossible to predict,” asserts Misserotti.

Reproduction © Copyright ANSA