A huge solar explosion may be heading towards Earth – interesting engineering

Astronomers have noticed a massive solar outburst but aren’t entirely sure if it’s headed toward Earth. NEWSWEEK mentioned.

Over the past few weeks, the surface of the Sun has had some interesting activity. AR3038 sunspot, which faces the Earth and was expected to die, has become larger and is now Three times the size of the Earth. Astronomers have been waiting for solar flares to erupt from this sunspot.

However, what happened instead is a coronal mass ejection, or CME, which is much more powerful than a solar flare because it is filled with large amounts of plasma and magnetic flux. The only problem is that the CME is not from the Sunspot AR3038. Instead, astronomers don’t really know where it came from.

How do we know if there is a CME?

Sunday’s eruption was monitored by a CME monitoring program from a European Space Agency (ESA) instrument called Computer Aided CME Tracking (CACTus). According to the tool’s website, the algorithm works independently. It uses data from the Coronagraph Large-Angle Spectrophotometry Experiment (LASCO), a collaboration between the European Space Agency and NASA to study the Sun.

Since the CME’s CACTus list is automatically generated, astronomers use other instruments that look at the Sun to confirm events. One such tool is NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which brought us images of sunspot AR3038, last week.

Unfortunately, there was no widespread power outage at Stanford University, where SDO instruments store data. This made it difficult to ascertain the exact location of the CME eruption and whether it was heading toward Earth.

what happened after that?

Unlike solar flares that can cause short term radio dimmingthe CME can cause massive outages because the magnetic forces in the eruption interact with the Earth’s magnetic field.

A geomagnetic storm caused by a CME can collapse entire electrical networks and interfere with wireless communications for days. Even navigational systems can be greatly affected by large, high-powered military detectors. Fortunately, these storms rarely happen.

Solar flares travel quickly and if directed toward Earth within minutes. Although the CME could take days before it hits Earth. Therefore, astronomers told Newsweek that the eruption observed on the surface of the Sun on Sunday could reach Earth by June 28 or June 29.

With the SDO going offline, astronomers now need to look at other instruments capable of determining the shape of the volcano to determine if the eruption is heading toward Earth. Factors such as the positioning of these tools can greatly affect the calculations made with these tools.

The only consolation astronomers have now is that even if the CME is pointed toward Earth, it may not be powerful enough to cause large-scale assaults. However, it stresses that important tools should be online at all times, because you never know when a solar storm could hit you.

Since the Sun is now in an active phase of its solar cycle, the less downtime, the better prepared we will be.

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