Solar Tsunamis Attacking Earth
Temporary Disturbance of the Earth's Magnetosphere



 
Solar Tsunamis Attacking Earth
Temporary Disturbance of the Earth's Magnetosphere

A solar tsunami that hit Earth in 2003 early October 28th, at approximately 6 a.m.
night is now providing a spectacular light show today. According to NASA, a portion of the sun had exploded on Sunday and sent out a solar flare, or a cloud of charged particles, racing towards earth. That solar storm has slammed into Earth's magnetic field, causing an electromagnetic storm.

The resulting light show, described by NASA as "rippling dancing curtains of green and red light", is only visible to those in the northern part of the U.S., Europe and Russia. Scientists say this indicates that the sun is waking up and heading toward another solar maximum expected in 2013. The previous one was in 2001.


A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a release of material from the solar corona, usually observed with a white-light coronagraph.

The ejected material is a plasma consisting primarily of electrons and protons (in addition to small quantities of heavier elements such as helium, oxygen, and iron), plus the entraining coronal magnetic field.

A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in space weather.

Associated with solar coronal mass ejections (CME), coronal holes, or solar flares, a geomagnetic storm is caused by a solar wind shock wave which typically strikes the Earth's magnetic field 3 days after the event.

This only happens if the shock wave travels in a direction toward Earth. The solar wind pressure on the magnetosphere will increase or decrease depending on the Sun's activity.

These solar wind pressure changes modify the electric currents in the ionosphere. Magnetic storms usually last 24 to 48 hours, but some may last for many days. In 1989, an electromagnetic storm disrupted power throughout most of Quebec and caused auroras as far south as Texas.


On August 1st, 2010, scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), using images taken from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, observed a series of four large CMEs emanating from the Earth-facing hemisphere.

At an observed velocity varying between 670,560 m/s and 1,118,000 m/s (meters per second), they were expected to strike the Earth's geomagnetic field sometime between August 4th and early August 5th. As of 05:00 UTC August 4th, the estimated time of arrival of the series was as follows:
  • Wednesday, August 4 – 07:00 UTC
  • Wednesday, August 4 – 17:00 UTC
  • Thursday, August 5 – 00:00 UTC
  • Thursday, August 5 – 06:00 UTC
All four were described as large and, according to scientists, possessed enough energy to cause aurorae to be observed by the naked eye in non-polar regions. According to reports, aurorae would be visible at night toward the northern horizon in temperate latitudes between 45° to 50°, and near overhead in regions farther north.

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The initial CME was generated by the eruption of August 1st named Sunspot 1092, which was big enough to be seen without the aid of a solar telescope.

Aside from the visual effects of the CME series, scientists also fear that electric impulses caused by disruptions in the magnetic field due to the ionized particles may damage infrastructure such as power grids and telephone lines not adequately protected against induced magnetic current.

It has also been reported that several Earth-orbiting satellites may be in similar danger. According to Leon Golub, an astronomer at CfA:

This eruption is directed right at us and is expected to get here early in the day on August 4th. It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time. When such an expulsion reaches Earth, it interacts with the planet's magnetic field and can create a geomagnetic storm.

Solar particles stream down the field lines toward Earth's poles. Those particles crash with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, which then glow like little neon signs. Sky watchers in the northern U.S. and other countries should look toward the north late Tuesday or early Wednesday for rippling "curtains" of green and red light.


In the early morning hours of August 4th, 2010 aurorae became visible at latitudes as far south as Michigan and Wisconsin in the United States, and Ontario, Canada near latitude 45° North. European followers reported sightings as far south as Denmark near latitude 56º North.

The aurorae were reportedly green in color due to the interaction of the solar particles with oxygen atoms in the relatively denser atmosphere of southern latitudes. This, however, is but the first wave of plasma, with the third and last expected to produce further auroral disturbances at similar latitudes during the evening of August 5th.

Geomagnetic Storm on Earth
World news agencies as well have also issued these warnings to the public, news agencies even going out of their way to educate the public as to what all this means and what to expect, should and when it happens.

Scientists said residents in the UK might even get a chance to see unusual northern lights as the coronal mass disturbs the the Earth's atmosphere.

Usually only regions closer to the Arctic can see the aurora of rippling reds and greens, but solar storms pull them south.

Early on Sunday morning, the Sun's surface erupted and blasted tons of plasma - ionised atoms - into interplanetary space.

That plasma is headed our way, and when it arrives, it could create a spectacular light show.

'This eruption is directed right at us, and is expected to get here early in the day on August 4th,' said astronomer Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). 'It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time.'

The eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, was caught on camera by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) - a spacecraft that launched in February. SDO provides better-than-HD quality views of the Sun at a variety of wavelengths.

'We got a beautiful view of this eruption,' said Golub. 'And there might be more beautiful views to come, if it triggers aurorae.'

When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, it interacts with our planet's magnetic field, potentially creating a geomagnetic storm. Solar particles stream down the field lines toward Earth's poles. Those particles collide with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, which then glow like miniature neon signs.

Aurorae normally are visible only at high latitudes. However, during a geomagnetic storm aurorae can light up the sky at lower latitudes. Sky watchers should look toward the north this evening and tomorrow evening for rippling curtains of green and red light.

The Sun goes through a regular activity cycle about 11 years long on average. The last solar maximum occurred in 2001. Its latest minimum was particularly weak and long lasting.