Solar storm forecast: Weak power grid fluctuation possible as particles from Sun hit Earth

Solar storm: NASA captures the moment a sunspot 'explodes'

Solar winds streaming from the Sun are expected to cause a possible disturbance in the planet’s magnetosphere this week. The disturbance could trigger a weak solar storm with possible effects on satellite operations and power grids on Wednesday, January 6. The US Space Weather Prediction Centre (SWPC) forecast follows the eruption of two Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the Sun on January 1 and 2.

CMEs occur when the Sun spews large amounts of plasma – an ionized gas of charged particles – and magnetic field from its corona –  the outermost part of its atmosphere.

These ejections can escape the Sun at speeds between 250 to 3,000km per second.

The fastest CMEs have been known to reach the planet in as little as 15 to 18 hours, while slower ejections can take several days to reach us.

When the particles reach the planet, they exchange energy with the space environment surrounding the Earth and cause a wide array of effects.

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

According to the SWPC, the second CME overtook the first one and may arrive by Wednesday.

The SWPC’s 24-hour summary reads: “Solar activity was very low and the solar disk was spotless.

“The CMEs that left the Sun on January 1 and 2 were analysed and modelled.

“The first, slow-moving CME was overtaken by the faster second CME on January 2.

“Model runs suggest arrival on January 6; however, confidence is somewhat low in timing due to the anticipated interactions between the two CMEs coupled with a weak coronal hole (CH) high-speed solar wind stream (HSS) due to the arrive late on January 5.”

The CMEs are also expected to pair with solar winds streaming from a coronal hole observed in the Sun’s corona.

Coronal holes are regions that are cooler and less dense than the surrounding plasma.

Because the holes are also open magnetic fields, they allow solar winds to escape into space and sometimes in the direction of our planet.

The SWPC said: “G1 (Minor) conditions are likely January 6 due to the forecast arrival of the January 2 CME combined with ongoing coronal hole effects.

NASA project recreates supernova noise with ‘cosmic triad of sound’ [INSIGHT]
NASA Moon landing: Why did the Apollo 11 flag wave and flap in space? [ANALYSIS]
Volcano eruptions mapped: Five volcanoes that could blow in 2021 [MAP]

Solar storm could cause ‘catastrophic damage’ to UK

“Unsettled with a chance for early, isolated active periods, are expected January 7.”

Solar storms or geomagnetic storms are ranked on a scale of G1 (Minor) to G5 (Extreme).

G1 storms can cause weak power grid fluctuations and can have a minor impact on satellite operations.

Weak solar storms are also known to have an impact on migratory animals in northern regions.

These events are also known to create aurora effects in the polar regions – Aurora Borealis in the Northern Hemisphere and Aurora Australis in the south.

At the other end of the scale, extreme events can lead to widespread voltage control problems, as well as power grid collapse and blackouts.

Spacecraft may experience surface charging and problems with orientation and tracking.

Extreme storms in the past have also been known to create aurora effects as low as Texas and Florida.

The SWPC said: “While the storms create beautiful aurora, they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines.”

Source: Read Full Article