Following Monday’s massive solar storm, another display is expected on Friday but with a different set of variables.
Some of North America and the UK would see a marvelous Northern Lights-esque display on Oct 11. Our Sun’s Monday solar storm was rated as a “moderate” occurrence, yet still managed to create quite the spectacle here on Earth.
Now, scientists are expecting another CME, or Corona Mass Ejection, from the Sun Friday.
“Another CME is coming, but this one might miss. A magnetic filament connected to sunspot AR2882 erupted on Oct. 12th (~0200 UT),” cites Spaceweather.com. As a result, “The debris is expected to pass in front of Earth on Oct. 15th.”
This days-long gap in time is due to the enormous distance between the Sun and Earth. Indeed, our average distance from the Sun is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) according to NASA.
So when the solar storm finally reaches us, “The near-miss could spark Arctic auroras, but probably no geomagnetic storm,” SpaceWeather continues.
As for those CMEs, corona mass ejections are called such because they form and take place in the Sun’s outer layer known as the corona. They’re enormous explosions of raw, heated gaseous energy – the likes of which we can barely comprehend here on Earth.
The fallout of CMEs, which produce solar flares and solar storms, can be so powerful that they often disrupt Earthling’s radio signals and electronics all these millions of miles away. If not for our planet’s magnetic field, the extreme consequences of solar storms could roast us all.
Yet lesser solar storms are common, and create auroras like the Northern Lights. This happens when said magnetic field is hit with harsh solar wind. The gorgeous aurora borealis of Earth is the result.
The Sun May Be 93 Million Miles Away, But Solar Storms are a Big Concern on Earth
While the Friday (Oct 15) solar event should be lesser in nature, scientists are still keeping a close eye on it. History teaches us that CMEs can wreak some real havoc on Earth. In fact, 1989 saw a solar eruption shut down power for the entire Canadian Province of Quebec. And it stayed out for nine hours.
With this in mind, the UK Met Office is playing all solar storms close to the chest.
“The 09 October CME arrived early on the 12th Oct and its effects are ongoing, although are currently showing signs of gradually waning,” their website observes. “The prolonged X-ray flare showed evidence of plasma ejecta from AR2882, which produced a CME. This is likely to give a glancing blow at Earth on day 4 (16 Oct).”
It’s all heavy astrological jargon, to be sure. But it’s important to be aware of any incoming threat to our safety, right?
“CH12/+ perhaps carries the greatest chance of producing significant activity, perhaps on days 3 and 4 (15 and 16 Oct), perhaps combined with a glancing blow from a CME on day 4 (16 Oct),” the office continues.
This means Saturday could possibly see some activity from the solar storm here on Earth, too.
Keep those eyes on the skies, Outsiders.