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Solar flare headed to earth might cause massive geomagnetic storm

Ishita Srivastava
Ishita SrivastavaJul 19, 2022 | 17:11

Solar flare headed to earth might cause massive geomagnetic storm

A solar flare approaching Earth. Photo: Getty Images

Space weather seems to be having a moment as a sun flare is headed towards the earth and is expected to hit it on July 19.

The solar flare can result into a massive geomagnetic storm, leading to radio blackouts, disruption in GPS signals and fluctuation in voltage.

What is a solar flare? As explained by the NASA, when sunspots release magnetic energy, the resulting intense burst of radiation is known as a solar flare. Solar flares are the largest explosive events in space and can last from minutes to hours.

A sun flare. Photo: Unsplash

How is a sun flare seen? Sun flares are visible due to the photons they produce on nearly every wavelength of the light spectrum. The flares are monitored through x-rays and optical light.

To understand more about what a solar flare is, check out this video:

What causes a geomagnetic storm? When an incoming solar flare interacts with earth’s magnetic field, a geomagnetic storm occurs on earth.

Impact of the incoming solar flare: Solar flares are of five different types- A, B, C, M, and X. The incoming flare is of the M-class.

The geomagnetic storm caused by the incoming M-class flare can lead to:

  1. Radio blackouts
  2. Disruption in GPS navigation systems
  3. Hindrances in journeys of ships and small aircrafts
  4. Fluctuation in electricity voltage which may damage appliances and electrical wiring.

Space weather physicist, Dr Tamitha Skov tweeted a video of the M-class flare and explained: “The long snake-like filament cartwheeled its way off the sun in a stunning ballet. The magnetic orientation of this earth-directed solar storm is going to be tough to predict.G2-level (possibly G3) conditions may occur if the magnetic field of this storm is oriented southward.”

Apart from the M-class flare, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center has forecast that there is a 40-45% chance of an S1 solar radiation storm to hit earth within the next 3 days.

Last updated: July 19, 2022 | 18:08
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