The world may be anticipating the launch of the Artemis I rocket today, but nature has its own highlights to display, whether it’s rain or fuel spills. According to Space.com, our world is on Aurora watch since a coronal mass ejection released last Friday is due to approach us today.
CMEs arise when the Sun emits massive volumes of energy and highly magnetized particle matter from its surface. CMEs often form after high magnetic energy regions on the Sun’s surface momentarily obstruct the convection process. Because of its lower temperature, the region on the surface cools and becomes visible as a dark patch from Earth’s telescopes. Scientists refer to it as a sunspot.
Over millennia, astronomers have studied the solar surface for the appearance of sunspots and discovered that their number increases considerably as the Sun enters the active phase of its solar cycle. The solar cycle is an 11-year period during which the Sun’s poles switch, causing the North Pole to become the South Pole and vice versa, before turning again during the next 11 years.
Auroras and solar weather
The appearance of sunspots has increased predictably as the Sun approaches its solar maximum. However, not all sunspots result in CMEs. Some just emit large amounts of radiation, known as solar flares, to compensate for the severe space weather.
We do not directly receive energetic particles or radiation
from the Sun because the atmosphere blocks the majority of them. When this happens, particles in the higher levels of the atmosphere become extremely energetic, resulting in the production of auroras.
Recently, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti revealed photographs of auroras caused by the most severe solar storms she had witnessed in space, based on her previous experience of spending 300 days in orbit.
Today is an Aurora alert.
According to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), charged particles created by this solar activity will reach our planet today, August 29. The interaction of the magnetized particles with the Earth’s magnetosphere is projected to produce a geomagnetic storm of the G1 category. This isn’t a concern for infrastructure, but it will undoubtedly produce some spectacular auroras later today.
So, keep a watch out for green skies, particularly if you’re near the poles.
Because sunspots and the resulting geomagnetic storms cause infrastructure concerns, scientists are attempting to forecast solar storms before they occur.