Scientists predict that solar storms that “cannibalize” each other will expose the sun to more intense activity over the next four years.
Last week, as the Sun began its new solar cycle, a series of geomagnetic storms struck the Earth, which occur every 11 years and peak in 2025.
Following a major solar eclipse on Halloween, it has hit Earth in the past week.
Occasionally, these discharges occur more frequently, the latter traveling faster than their predecessors and merging with the slower ones.
“That first CME basically goes through 93 million miles and almost destroys the way other CMEs get behind it,” he explained. Space Bill Murdoch, project coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Forecast Center (SWPC).
“Sometimes we use the word‘ cannibalism ’up front,” Murtak explained.
The NOAA team uses a spacecraft called the Deep Space Climate Monitor (Dscovr), located one million miles from the Sun in the direction of the Earth. When a CME spacecraft hits, scientists know it will pass in 20 or 30 minutes. The storm hits the planet.
CMEs threaten power grids and satellites, but they are generally manageable.
“We have hundreds of examples from this kind of level, so we have a good idea of what this network will do,” Murtak said. “They see it, they feel it. We see some of these voltage abuses … but the state of this shock is very manageable.”
However, with this particular type of “cannibalism” CME, the results can be quite drastic. “For all practical purposes, we have determined that this will be our worst case scenario for a severe geomagnetic storm event,” Murdoch said. “The CMEs weren’t that big, but that process happened here, we had two, three different CMEs put together,” and there are “a lot of unknowns in the space weather business.”
At worst, a solar storm can wreak havoc to the point where it sends the entire world into an “internet disaster”.
If so, experts say GPS processes on power connections, cables and satellites could be damaged, and we do not know how resilient the current Internet infrastructure is to high solar activity.
“As CMEs often appear in magnetically active areas near sunspots, higher sunspots increase the likelihood of a powerful CME. If this estimate is accurate, it will significantly increase the probability of a large-scale event this decade,” said Sangeeta Abdu Jothi, of the University of California, Irvine and V.M.
Massive solar storms like this had never struck before, but this was not the case at a time when electricity was so essential.
Over the past century, there have been numerous fires in electricity and telegraph control rooms in various parts of the world, including in the United States and the United Kingdom, due to the magnetic fields created by one of the largest solar storms on Earth. .
Space meteorological events such as these “should be considered with caution[s]“According to Dr. Jeffrey Love, a geophysicist with the Geomagnetic Project of the United States Geological Survey.