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 8 p.m. EDT on Friday (July 22) (0000 GMT on July 23) and into the early hours of Saturday (July 23). During this time a full halo coronal mass ejectionor CME The Earth’s magnetic field. Forecasts indicate that polar lights can be seen much farther from the poles than their usual latitudes.
The CME causing this space weather was observed loudly on Thursday (July 21). a statement (opens in new tab) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center. CMEs are bursts of charged particles ejected from the rocket atmosphere of the sun, or corona. When these particles interact with Earth’s magnetic field, they can create stunning aurora borealis, but they can also cause minor damage to electrical networks or disrupt the operation of spacecraft and satellite communications.
Related: The worst solar storms in history
This is reported by Spaceweather.com (opens in new tab) that the oncoming space weather storms were caused by an explosion in space sunspot AR3060 producing a solar flare. Images produced by NOAA’s Solar Ultraviolet Imager GO-16 Weather satellites show a large flare emanating directly overhead SunEquator.
In North America, the storm could bring auroras as far away as Illinois or Oregon, while in the UK they could be visible from northern Scotland. In addition, radio propagation could be affected in high latitudes, including as far away as New York and Idaho in the United States and northern areas of the United Kingdom. Some migratory animals might even be affected, as some animals use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation.
According to a NOAA forecast (opens in new tab)the storm is approaching levels G1 (minor) and G2 (moderate).
This means the solar storm could affect electrical infrastructure at high latitudes and possibly even cause transformer damage if long, high-intensity storms occur. Orbiting spacecraft may also experience changes in drag and may require ground controllers to make changes in orientation.
The current storm comes as the Sun’s activity continues to increase over the course of a regular 11 year solar cycle. After a few years of a quiet Sun, flares and CMEs are becoming more common ahead of the peak of this solar cycle, which is expected to occur in 2025.