The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC for its initials and English) attached to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, by its acronym in English) of the United States has issued a statement explaining that a solar storm will impact imminently against Earth between this Wednesday and on Thursday. The alert was published this Monday after the last day May 10 the experts will locate a series of three coronal mass ejections (CME for its acronym in English) that anticipated the solar storm.
«The first ones are expected two CME events arrive on 15 th of May and it is anticipated that third CME arrives the second half of May 16», They warn from the SWPC. Specifically, two types of alerts are in force in the United States: a minor (cataloged as G1) between May 15 and 17 and a "moderate" one (G2) that is expected to occur on 16, the peak day of event intensity.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has also confirmed in its networks the impending solar storm both through social networks and its website.
The Earth is experiencing a geomagnetic storm. Follow the evolution of the Kp index describing the level of geomagnetic activity (currently Kp = 6 – high activity) using https://t.co/vey8BqTRee#spaceweather#solarhazardspic.twitter.com/npWpLITkcV
– ESA Space Weather (@esaspaceweather) May 14, 2019
Collapse of the filaments
The Sun has 11-year cycles in which there are minimums and maximums of activity. At this moment we are in a solar minimum, situation that is expected to change in 2024, when our star reaches a maximum, producing an increase in sunspots. "But being a minimum does not mean that the Sun is standing," he explains. Javier Rodríguez-Pacheco, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Alcalá (UAH) and expert in solar storms. "In the minimum period there is a smaller percentage of this type of events, but that does not mean that they do not happen," he says. It is also not certain that the maximum occurs on the aforementioned date: the last cycles of our star have been uncommon, lengthening in time the minimum and recording peak periods less strong than normal.
Therefore, it is not so rare that researchers saw last May 10 how solar filaments – which form in magnetic loops that maintain masses of dense and relatively cold gas suspended above the surface of the Sun – collapsed, an event that occurs when the nearby magnetic field becomes unstable. The resulting explosions, which often occur far from the observed regions, are called Hyder flares – so called in honor of Charles Hyder, who published studies of such events in 1967-. On this occasion, the location of the origin of the CMEs occurred in the 2471 region, as reported from the SWPC.
After that flare, the particles with an intense magnetic charge from the gigantic solar flare They are fired into space and can hit us. However, most of the time, our magnetic field acts as a protective shield, deforming and causing impressive northern lights.
But extreme events of this type can produce strong solar storms that traverse the magnetic field and damage electrical and radio systems, as happened in 1859 the famous Carrington event -where the telegraph network was severely damaged- or the 1989 event in Canada -where Quebec ran out of light for a day-. For this occasion, SWPC experts want to send a message of tranquility to the population affirming that No electrical blackouts or significant damage are expected for this wave of solar storms.
What can be seen are polar auroras at unusual latitudes. In fact, local media have reported that these impressive celestial lights have been recorded at dawn on Tuesday in cities such as New York or Michigan.
Unedited pictures from last night's Northern Lights party at Lily Pond in Hancock Township, MI around 3am. #AuroraBorealis#NorthernLights#KeweenawPeninsula#Dawn#StormHour#PureMichiganpic.twitter.com/wZAlA44Tdk
– Isaac (@ID_Photo_Graphy) May 14, 2019
Can it cause damage in Europe?
Although the alert is valid for the United States, could this event have consequences for Europe and, more specifically, for Spain? Rodríguez-Pacheco explains to ABC that our continent is more protected by its location, at latitudes closer to the equator; and by the type of networks, much less gigantic than those built in the USA. UU and Canada, for example.
«In Spain we should not worry. At northern altitudes, at the level of the Nordic countries, there may be aurora borealis, but here they only registered during the Carrington event, "he says. So, for now, tranquility despite the solar storm that rages.
. (tagsToTranslate) imminent solar storm (t)