|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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
- Wednesday, August 4 – 07:00 UTC
- Wednesday, August 4 – 17:00 UTC
- Thursday, August 5 – 00:00 UTC
- Thursday, August 5 – 06:00 UTC
Massive Solar Storms
Step inside the eye of a solar storm and the measures scientists take to predict them.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.'
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
'We got a beautiful view of this eruption,' said
Golub. 'And there might be more beautiful views to come, if it triggers
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.
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.
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.