This week has been oddly quiet for the Sun. While there have been reports of a new sunspot emerging on the Earth-facing side of the Sun, it has not shown any signs of turning unstable so far. However, the Earth will still have to deal with the terrifying explosions that took place in the notorious sunspot AR3234 last weekend. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier reported that multiple M-class solar flares erupted on March 4 and 5 and they released a huge amount of coronal mass ejection (CME) towards the Earth. Now, the CME cloud is expected to sideswipe our planet today, March 9 to produce a solar storm. Check details below.
The incident was reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “Minor solar storms are possible later today or tomorrow when a CME is expected to sideswipe Earth’s magnetic field. The CME was launched from the sun on March 6th, the aftermath of an M5.8-class solar flare near the sun’s northwestern limb”. It also added that while the impact was expected to be weak, it could still spark auroras in the Arctic circles.
Solar storm to strike the Earth today
The NOAA forecast suggests that the incoming solar storm will be a minor one, which is generally between G1 to G2 class category. A G1-class solar storm is generally harmless and only produces weak auroras in the higher latitudes. However, if it is a G2-class solar storm, it could be more intense than expected.
A G2-class storm can disrupt wireless communications and GPS services, causing trouble for airlines, mariners, ham radio controllers and drone operators. The solar storm can delay flights, cause ships to change course and disrupt any important information that is shared through these low frequency channels. Additionally, more powerful solar storms (G3 and above) can potentially damage satellites, break down mobile networks and internet services, cause power grid failures and corrupt sensitive ground-based electronics. However, it is unlikely that this particular solar storm will get stronger than G3-class.
DSCOVR satellite’s role in solar weather monitoring
NOAA monitors the solar storms and Sun’s behavior using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The different measurements are done on temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles.