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Scientists were recently left baffled after a “potentially devastating” solar storm hit Earth without warning.
Sudden solar storm struck a land Just before midnight UTC on June 25 and continued throughout most of June 26, according to Spaceweather.com (Opens in a new tab). Scientists classified it as a category G1 storm, which means it was strong enough to cause weak fluctuations in the power grid, cause minor effects on satellite operation, disrupt the navigational capabilities of some migratory animals, and cause unusual strength. twilight.
The unexpected solar storm coincided with a peak Extremely rare alignment of the five planetswhere MercuryAnd the Venusplanet mars, Jupiter And the Saturn They lined up in the sky for their closeness to the sun (Which hasn’t happened since 1864.) Amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere have been able to capture images of the sudden aurora borealis as they blast out the aligned planets with precision.
Photographer Harlan Thomas took this photo picture (Opens in a new tab) From the bright aurora borealis in Calgary, Canada, that flashed across the dawn sky against planetary alignment on June 26.
“Great, talk about surprises,” Thomas told Spaceweather.com. “It became twilight [visible to the] with the naked eye with pretty plumes,” and it lasted about 5 minutes, Thomas said.
Scientists initially suspected Coronal mass ejection The CME caused a strange storm — a large belching of plasma with an embedded magnetic field belching from a sunspot — but they weren’t able to tell if it happened on the Earth’s side or far from the sun, according to Spaceweather. com.
However, experts now blame the Sun’s very rare co-rotational interaction (CIR) region; These are “transition zones between slow and fast-moving solar wind currents,” according to Spaceweather.com. These regions create accumulations of plasma that can suddenly unleash shock waves that resemble coronal ejections but do not cause sunspots – making them more difficult to detect on the Sun’s surface. The solar wind that hit Earth on June 25 and 26 peaked at about 1.57 million miles per hour (2.52 million kilometers per hour), which is consistent with other CIR rates in the past, according to Spaceweather.com.
The sudden solar storm hit Earth less than a week after a giant sunspot known as AR3038, Doubled in size in 24 hours Its maximum diameter was more than 2.5 times the size of Earth. The giant sunspot raised fears that our planet could be hit with potentially harmful criminal coordinates, but the spot was eventually targeted farther from Earth as the Sun rotated. Scientists don’t know if the giant sunspot and solar storm are connected.
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The aurora occurs when charged particles from the solar wind collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, ionizing those particles and causing them to glow. The aurora borealis are usually confined to regions around the north and south poles, where the Earth’s magnetic field, which normally deflects these particles, is weaker. But during solar storms, the aurora can become much brighter and can be seen at much lower latitudes than usual. In November 2021, a strong solar storm Produced colorful displays In the United States as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon.
Because scientists initially thought the latest solar storm might have been caused by the distant CME, they predicted that the unusual aurora borealis could last until June 29. However, solar wind activity is now back to normal.
Originally published on Live Science.
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