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New solar storms are expected to arrive in the next few days

The largest sunspot of the current cycle, the cause of the most recent Northern Lights, undergoes a strong explosion

After they produce the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights in different regions of the globe, the Sun has emitted another large eruption. The giant sunspot AR3664 has become active again and has undergone an X5.8 class explosion, one of the strongest in recent years. The resulting coronal mass ejection (CME) is expected to cause another intense storm.

On Friday (10th), the Earth was hit by a large stream of charged particles from the Sun, causing an intense geomagnetic storm. Initially, space weather experts classified it as a Class G4 event (severe)but the phenomenon reached G5 (extreme).

This was caused by the series of flares in sunspot AR3664 over the past week. Some of these eruptions reached rank X, the most powerful. The X class is broken down into numbers: an X1 explosion is weaker than an X2 explosion, and so on.

X-class explosions only happen when the Sun approaches maximum magnetic activity, and that’s what we’re seeing. The AR3664 commercial was presented this week X1.0 and X2.2 class eventsFor example.


Also on Friday and during the early hours of Saturday, an X3.9 and X5.8 eruption occurred respectively (video above). The latter is one of the largest of the current cycle, behind the X6.3 class eventoccurred in February.

With this intensity, the explosion created a CME, meaning it “ripped” some of the plasma from the star’s upper atmosphere (video below). This plasma arrived towards Earth at high speed and is expected to soon collide with the planet’s magnetic field.

The magnetic field is a protective shield against the accelerated particles of CMEs, but the more intense ones can penetrate, interact with and ionize our atmosphere. This phenomenon is common and has occurred since the beginning of the Solar System.

Coronal mass ejections

As it approaches solar maximum (peak magnetic activity within 11-year cycles), our star emits increasingly intense flares from its sunspots.

These explosions occur in the lower layers of the solar atmosphere and sometimes produce coronal mass ejections (CMEs): large clouds of plasma from the solar corona ejected at very high speed into space.

However, not all CMEs are caused by sunspot eruptions: there are other complex and not yet well understood phenomena that can trigger these coronal ejections.


The opposite is also true: not all flares cause CME. Furthermore, the intensity of the eruption (whether X1, X5 or greater) does not necessarily reflect the strength of a possible geomagnetic storm. Look at the February eruption, the largest in years, which did not cause G5 storms, like this weekend.

Finally, a solar flare can cause effects on Earth (such as blackouts in radio transmissions) in as little as 8 minutes, while geomagnetic storms occur just days after a CME is sent our way.

Trends on Canaltech:

Source: Terra

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