Intense geomagnetic storms are possible in the coming days as Earth’s magnetic field is bombarded by a solar storm cloud.
Forecasters expect the worst of the solar storm to hit sometime around Friday (July 22) at 8:00 PM EDT (July 23 at 0000 GMT) and into the early morning hours of Saturday (July 23). During this time, a full-halo coronal mass ejectionor CME, will now Earth’s magnetic field. Forecasters notice it northern lights may be visible much further from the poles than their usual latitudes.
The CME causing this space weather was observed Thursday (July 21), according to a statement (opens in a new tab) from the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). CMEs are bursts of charged particles that are ejected from the sun’s atmosphere, or corona. When these particles interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, they can create amazing northern lights, but they can also wreak minor havoc on electrical grids or interfere with spacecraft operations and satellite-based communications.
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This is reported by Spaceweather.com (opens in a new tab) that the oncoming space weather storms were caused by an explosion i sunspot AR3060, which produced a solar flare. Images produced by the Solar Ultraviolet Imager aboard NOAA TUESDAY-16 weather satellite shows a large flare coming from just above sunits equator.
In North America, the storm could bring auroras as far south as Illinois or Oregon, while in the UK they could be visible from as far north as Scotland. In addition, radio propagation may be affected at high latitudes, including as far south as New York and Idaho in the US and northern areas of the UK. Some migratory animals may even be affected, due to the fact that some animals use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation.
According to a NOAA forecast (opens in a new tab)the storm will approach levels G1 (Minor) and G2 (Moderate).
This means that the solar storm could affect electrical infrastructure at high latitudes, possibly even causing transformer damage if prolonged, high-intensity storms occur. Spacecraft in orbit may also experience changes in air resistance and may require ground controllers to perform changes in orientation.
The current storm comes as the sun’s activity continues to increase as part of a regular, 11-year cycle solar cycle. After a few years of quiet sun, flares and CMEs are becoming more frequent ahead of this solar cycle’s peak, which is predicted to occur in 2025.