A surprise solar storm hit the Earth at a speed of over 2,500,000 km/h

This phenomenon of moderate intensity is not a threat, but the fact that it is completely unnoticed has troubled the researchers.

Recently, astronomy enthusiasts have been able to enjoy a spectacular view with the alignment of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, all lined up in an onion line in their han -is in the vicinity of the Sun – an event that does not. occurred since 1864. But in the northern part of the world, the scene is sometimes “photobombed” by an event that is also unique, but unexpected at this time: auroras.

These beautiful celestial lights are quite constant; on the other hand, it is more rare that it happens without warning. This is because they are directly related to a cosmological phenomenon that astronomers observe with particular attention: solar flare and geomagnetic storms as a result.

In very short, a solar flare is no more or less than a large emission of more intense light. They appeared after the turbulence of the Sun’s magnetic field. But they can also be associated with what is called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

Geomagnetic storms that cause aurora are usually from coronal mass ejections, plasma bubbles coming from sunspots. © SDO/HMI

Astronomers keep an eye on…

During these events, a bubble of superheated charged particles (we discussed plasma) is catapulted at high speed in a specific direction. Sometimes these explosions can explode directly for the Earth. The particles then collide with the Earth’s magnetic field, serving as a shield against these events. This influx of solar plasma then crashes into the upper atmosphere, sometimes producing auroras.

But the strongest of them can penetrate this shield and have noticeable effects. Not directly to people, but to electrical installations and electronic equipment. This is an example of what happened over the Easter weekend, when moderate sunburn caused some radio blackouts on Earth (see our article).

And for this reason NASA is diligently monitoring the dynamics of solar cells. Because in some rare cases, extremely severe EMCs are capable grill half of the world’s electronic infrastructure in a few moments, with all the dangerous consequences covered.

An example of a solar flare was captured on March 30 at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. © NASA/GSFC/SDO

… But they were still surprised

So the agency expects blackouts over the Easter weekend. The June 26 storm, on the other hand, shocked everyone. No astronomer expected it to arrive when it hit the Earth’s magnetic shield, with a shocking speed measured at 2.52 million km / h – almost double the average, according to NASA.

Fortunately, according to a Spaceweather.com report seen by LiveScience, the intensity of this geomagnetic storm remains moderate despite its intensity; in any case, no blackout or infrastructure damage was reported. For the general public, the story ends here. On the other hand, for researchers, it is a phenomenon that transmits spinal tremors.

They spend a lot of time looking at sunspots precisely to avoid facing a fait accompli at the last minute when a storm of critical strength hits the Earth.

So there is enough to be at the same time sigh with a narrow escape, but also concerned who missed this information. Like a mind-boggling pedestrian escaping a frontal impact with a heavy weight on the extremis.

A CME from an unexpected place

Since then, the challenge has been to determine why and how this storm can be so smart. And astronomers finally believe they have a satisfactory answer; for them, this geomagnetic storm is not at all part of the sunspot.

They considered the explosion to have occurred in the so -called a co-rotating interaction region, or CIR. This is equivalent to an output of intersections where extremely strong solar winds cross, and other slow. This interaction between the charged particles can cause an accumulation of plasma, which can be ejected like a cannon ball during a vibration of the magnetic field.

But unlike sunspots, astronomers don’t always monitor these CIRs, so everyone is amazed. So this story reinforces the idea that it is unwise to monitor sunspots; it is necessary check out the Sun in general, with many different techniques.

This makes it possible to be alerted as quickly as possible if there is a cataclysmic explosion of the type. Event in Carrington (see our article) happened. it not in the fundamental change of circumstances because as it stands, humanity remains powerless against the whims of her fetish star. But in such a catastrophic context, the smallest minute can make a difference when it comes. protection of some critical systems for Mankind.

In any case, the message is clear: we need to keep our eyes open as we approach the next peak of solar activity, expected between 2023 and 2026.

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