July 4, 2022

autosankauf-emsdetten.de

WEBSITE NEWS UPDATE

Northern Lights could be visible in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon tonight

7 min read

The Northern Lights, usually seen around the Arctic Circle, could be visible in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon tonight due to an intense geomagnetic storm. 

The spectacular natural phenomenon is the result of a giant ‘cannibal’ solar eruption that is barrelling towards Earth at 1.8 million miles/hour.

The first warning of the geomagnetic storm was issues on Monday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) – initially declaring it a G2, but since upgrading it to a G3.

Space Weather forecasters use the G-scale to describe the strength of a geomagnetic storm – caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. G1 is the weakest and G5 is the most extreme.

The increase to G3 is the result of stronger solar activity, with 17 eruptions blasting from a single sunspot on the sun, and two of them headed towards Earth. 

An SWPC alert said: ‘Aurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.’ 

The Northern Lights, usually seen around the Arctic Circle, could be visible in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon tonight due to an intense geomagnetic storm. Stock image

The first warning of the geomagnetic storm was issues on Monday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) - initially declaring it a G2, but since upgrading it to a G3

The first warning of the geomagnetic storm was issues on Monday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) – initially declaring it a G2, but since upgrading it to a G3

WHAT ARE AURORAS AND WHAT TRIGGERS THE STUNNING NATURAL DISPLAYS? 

The Northern and Southern Lights are natural light spectacles triggered in our atmosphere that are also known as the ‘Auroras’.

There are two types of Aurora — Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south.’

The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Usually the particles, sometimes referred to as a solar storm, are deflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

But during stronger storms they enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles, including hydrogen and helium.

These collisions emit light. Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are common.

These storms are normally harmless, although they can cause some disruption by affecting electronics and satellites.

A recent example was the loss of 40 SpaceX Starlink satellites, climbing to their desired orbit, due to a geomagnetic storm earlier this year.

See also  Number of droughts has surged 29% since 2000 – and mitigation is needed urgently, UN warns

SWPC says the storm of Thursday could lead to some irregularities in power system voltages.

It may also cause drag on low Earth orbit satellites that could interfere with their ability to communicate with Earth, and may cause issues with GPS navigation.

However, these are remote possibilities from a G3 storm, but could increase in risk if the storm is upgraded.

Also known as aurora borealis, the Northern Lights are predominantly seen in high-latitude regions, so any glimpse further south are a rare treat.  

The latest potential sighting has been made possible because of the sunspot AR2957, which has been shooting out flares of electrically charged particles from the sun’s plasma soup since Monday (March 28).

Sunspots are areas on the sun’s surface where powerful magnetic fields, created by the flow of electrical charges, become tangled and eventually release a huge explosion of energy that results in a solar flare. 

Cannibal coronal mass ejections happen when fast-moving solar eruptions overtake earlier eruptions in the same region of space, forming a huge wavefront that triggers a powerful geomagnetic storm.

A solar or geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere – the area around Earth controlled by the planet’s magnetic field – caused by CMEs.

Although our sun gives us life, it also frequently ‘sneezes’, ejecting billions of tonnes of hot plasma into space in colossal blobs of matter threaded with magnetic fields — in other words, CMEs.

It emits gigantic flares, bursts of powerful electromagnetic radiation — x-rays, gamma rays and radio bursts — accompanied by streams of highly energetic particles.

CMEs usually take around 15 to 18 hours to reach Earth.

The UK Met Office space weather division said the next one is expected to arrive today, with its effects expected to continue into tomorrow and eventually weakening by Saturday (April 2). 

Space Weather forecasters use the G-scale to describe the strength of a geomagnetic storm - caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with the Earth's magnetic field. G1 is the weakest and G5 is the most extreme

Space Weather forecasters use the G-scale to describe the strength of a geomagnetic storm – caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. G1 is the weakest and G5 is the most extreme

The increase to G3 is the result of stronger solar activity, with 17 eruptions blasting from a single sunspot on the sun, and two of them headed towards Earth. Stock image

The increase to G3 is the result of stronger solar activity, with 17 eruptions blasting from a single sunspot on the sun, and two of them headed towards Earth. Stock image

WHAT IS A ‘CANNIBAL’ SOLAR ERUPTION? 

Sunspots are areas on the sun’s surface where powerful magnetic fields, created by the flow of electrical charges, become tangled and eventually release a huge explosion of energy that results in a solar flare. 

See also  A fifth of food-related greenhouse gas emissions come from transporting our grub across the planet

Cannibal coronal mass ejections (CMEs) happen when fast-moving solar eruptions overtake earlier eruptions in the same region of space, forming a huge wavefront that triggers a powerful geomagnetic storm. 

CMEs usually take around 15 to 18 hours to reach Earth. 

The aurora appears when atoms in the Earth’s high-altitude atmosphere collide with energetic charged particles from the sun, creating breathtaking colours of green with a hint of pink, red and violet.

It is more often seen in winter when the nights are cold, long and dark.

When a solar storm heads our way, some of the energy and small particles can travel down the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles into Earth’s atmosphere.

There, the particles interact with gases in our atmosphere resulting in beautiful displays of light in the sky — the aurora, or Northern Lights. Oxygen gives off green and red light, while nitrogen glows blue and purple.

The aurora can be seen near the poles of both the northern and southern hemispheres. In the north the display is known as the aurora borealis, and in the south it is called the aurora australis.

The Northern Lights have fascinated people on Earth for centuries, but the science behind them has not always been understood.

Our planet has an invisible forcefield, the magnetosphere, which protects us from dangerous charged particles from the sun.

The magnetosphere is the area around Earth controlled by the planet’s magnetic field.

Science expert Marty Jopson said: ‘Whilst it shelters us, it also creates one of the most impressive phenomena on Earth — the Northern Lights.

‘When the deadly solar winds meet Earth’s magnetosphere, some of the charged particles get trapped, and are propelled down the Earth’s magnetic field lines straight towards the poles.

‘And when they reach Earth, they strike atoms and molecules in our atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light.’

SOLAR STORMS PRESENT A CLEAR DANGER TO ASTRONAUTS AND CAN DAMAGE SATELLITES

Solar storms, or solar activity, can be divided into four main components that can have impacts on Earth:  

  • Solar flares: A large explosion in the sun’s atmosphere. These flares are made of photons that travel out directly from the flare site. Solar flares impact Earth only when they occur on the side of the sun facing Earth.  
  • Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s): Large clouds of plasma and magnetic field that erupt from the sun. These clouds can erupt in any direction, and then continue on in that direction, plowing through solar wind. These clouds only cause impacts to Earth when they’re aimed at Earth. 
  • High-speed solar wind streams: These come from coronal holes on the sun, which form anywhere on the sun and usually only when they are closer to the solar equator do the winds impact Earth. 
  • Solar energetic particles: High-energy charged particles thought to be released primarily by shocks formed at the front of coronal mass ejections and solar flares. When a CME cloud plows through solar wind, solar energetic particles can be produced and because they are charged, they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and Earth. Only charged particles that follow magnetic field lines that intersect Earth will have an impact. 
See also  Women are seen as more attractive, feminine, and of a higher status when they wear high heels

While these may seem dangerous, astronauts are not in immediate danger of these phenomena because of the relatively low orbit of manned missions.

However, they do have to be concerned about cumulative exposure during space walks.

This photo shows the sun's coronal holes in an x-ray image. The outer solar atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields, which when closed can cause the atmosphere to suddenly and violently release bubbles of gas and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections

This photo shows the sun’s coronal holes in an x-ray image. The outer solar atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields, which when closed can cause the atmosphere to suddenly and violently release bubbles or tongues of gas and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections

The damage caused by solar storms 

Solar flares can damage satellites and have an enormous financial cost.

The charged particles can also threaten airlines by disturbing Earth’s magnetic field.

Very large flares can even create currents within electricity grids and knock out energy supplies.

When Coronal Mass Ejections strike Earth they cause geomagnetic storms and enhanced aurora.

They can disrupt radio waves, GPS coordinates and overload electrical systems.

A large influx of energy could flow into high voltage power grids and permanently damage transformers.

This could shut off businesses and homes around the world. 

Source: NASA – Solar Storm and Space Weather 

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.