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Solar storm warning: Earth set for ‘glancing blow’ in HOURS – power grid on alert | Science | News

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A huge flare of filaments from the Sun’s outer layer on May 7 triggered a coronal mass ejection (CME) that is expected to hit the Earth’s magnetic field, potentially triggering solar storms once it arrives. A CME is a huge bubble of plasma projected from the Sun that contains billions of tons of fast-moving solar particles and the magnetic field that binds them.

NOAA analysts have warned that the incoming CME could deal a “hard blow” to the Earth’s magnetic field on May 10, with possible minor geomagnetic storms as a result.

Spaceweather.com experts report: “A magnetic filament on the sun burst on May 7, blasting a CME into space.

“NOAA analysts say this could deal a fatal blow to the Earth’s magnetic field on May 10.

“This is a low confidence forecast. Minor geomagnetic storms are possible if/when the CME arrives.”

The US Space Weather Center (SWPC) classifies solar storms on a scale of “G1 Minor”, the least intense, up to “G5 Extreme”.

Fortunately, potential incoming solar storms, which occur if there is an efficient exchange of solar wind energy in the space environment surrounding Earth, are expected to be minor.

But even the weakest storms threaten “power grid fluctuations” and have a “minor impact on satellite operations”. If storms make direct contact with a satellite or power transformer, it can cause problems on Earth.

At the louder end of the scale, this is where it starts to get more dangerous.

Fortunately, potential incoming solar storms, which occur if there is an efficient exchange of solar wind energy in the space environment surrounding Earth, are expected to be minor.

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“A return to calm or unsettled conditions from May 12 will follow.”

The incoming CME can only trigger minor storms, but experts have warned in the past that Earth is unprepared for stronger storms, which could trigger multi-day blackouts.

The SWPC said: “During storms, currents in the ionosphere, as well as energetic particles rushing through the ionosphere, add energy in the form of heat which can increase the density and density distribution in the upper atmosphere, causing additional drag on satellites in low Earth orbit.

“Local heating also creates strong horizontal variations in ionospheric density that can alter the path of radio signals and create errors in positioning information provided by GPS.”

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