A giant sun tendril, known as a solar filament, flew out of it sun on Saturday (Sept. 16) will catapult an eruption of super-hot plasma known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued an observation of a mild G2 geomagnetic storm that is keeping an eye on the part of the Earth pointed at Earth. CME it is expected to strike on September 19.
This could be good news for aurora hunters. If the CME arrives as expected, it could trigger a geomagnetic storm similar to the one on September 12 that caused Aurora as far south as Colorado and Missouri, according to Spaceweather.com.
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Solar physicist Keith Strong took over X (formally known as Twitter) to express his excitement at the colossal eruption. “LARGEST ERUPTION I’VE EVER SEEN! I’ve been observing the sun professionally for over 50 years and this is the largest filamentary eruption I’ve ever seen.”
THE BIGGEST ERUPTION I HAVE EVER SEEN! I have been a professional solar observer for over 50 years and this is the largest filament eruption I have seen. Note that it covers more than half of the Sun, compare it to the size of Earth (inset), but surprisingly did not produce a large eruption. pic.twitter.com/RgplcTy0ApSeptember 17, 2023
Geomagnetic storms are disturbances Earth’s magnetic field caused by solar material from a CME – large ejection of plasma and magnetic field from solar atmosphere.
NOAA ranks geomagnetic storms on a scale from G1, which could cause an increase in polar activity around the poles and minor fluctuations in power supplies, to G5, the most extreme level, which can cause complete blackouts of high-frequency (HF) radio on the entire sunny side Earth lasting several hours.
The forecast G2 storm on Tuesday (Sept. 19) could produce widespread auroras and could result in a limited outage of high-frequency radio communications on the sunny side and possible loss of radio contact for up to tens of minutes, according to NOAA. Low-frequency navigation signals can also be degraded for tens of minutes.
We can expect more extreme space weather events as the sun rises to its zenith in its 11-year cycle of solar activityit is expected to occur in 2025. But like the weather on Earth, space weather is fickle and predictions can change on a dime.