A strong solar storm could boost auroras this week and result in a visual treat

A geomagnetic storm appearing this weak could potentially “charge” auroras, becoming a visual treat for some.

Aurora from spaceThis image of the Aurora Borealis was taken by NASA astronaut Josh Cassada from the International Space Station. (Image credit: Josh Cassada / Twitter)

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Auroras are among the most stunning natural phenomena we get to see on the planet, and there’s a chance they will be ‘charged’ this week due to a powerful solar storm.

Aurorae are clusters of tiny flashes that occur when charged particles (electrons, protons, etc.) collide with the gases in our planet’s upper atmosphere. According to, there will be a significant geomagnetic storm this week caused by particle ejection from the sun. This could potentially “charge” auroras where they are visible.

On May 7, a coronal mass ejection (CME) struck our planet’s magnetic field, according to the Space Weather Monitoring website. However, contrary to forecasts, it had only a weak impact and did not cause a significant geomagnetic storm. Shortly after, however, the Sun reportedly launched another CME towards our planet.

CMEs are bubbles of coronal plasma ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours. They often occur in conjunction with solar flares, which are explosions on the Sun’s surface, but CMEs are also known to occur independently.

On May 7, shortly after a CME struck our planet, a “backwards active region” on the Sun exploded, creating a prolonged solar flare, and the explosion appears to be aimed at Earth. The extreme UV radiation from the flare ionized the top of our planet’s atmosphere. This could have resulted in a small shortwave radio outage over the western United States and the Pacific Ocean.

This solar blast also threw another CME onto our planet. A NASA model of the same predicts that this CME could arrive on our planet on May 10th. This could trigger G2 (moderate) or G3 (strong) class geomagnetic storms. Geomagnetic storms like this could amplify auroras in the parts where they are visible and could even make them visible in regions where they are not normally visible.

Solar activity has gradually increased in recent years, and scientists expect this trend to continue through to Solar Maximum, which NASA says is expected to occur in 2025. The solar maximum describes the period with the highest and most intense solar activity.

© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd

First publication on: 09/05/2023 at 18:05 IST


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