Earth spared full effect of highly anticipated solar storm
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 9:07 AM - It turns out the highly anticipated solar storm that was scheduled to arrive Wednesday afternoon only brushed the edge of Earth's magnetic field, bringing less magnitude than expected.
NOAA forecasters estimated a 80 per cent chance of polar geomagnetic storms on June 24. Another coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field Wednesday following Monday's dazzling geomagnetic storm. However, the anticipated G3 rating on the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center’s five-step Geomagnetic Storm scale, was downgraded to a G1.
Around 9 AM EDT Wednesday, an increase in solar wind speeds and a slight increase in the magnetic field were observed at the ACE spacecraft, NOAA reports. These were both indications of the likely arrival of the forecasted CME.
"The resulting weak response a short time later from several magnetometers around the world, indicate that we were likely only hit by the edge of the plasma cloud as it passed by Earth," NOAA reports.
Solar wind speeds are still high and Earth's magnetic field is still disturbed, which brings the possibility for increased geomagnetic storming, according to NOAA. Geomagnetic activity is expected to continue to dwindle over the next couple of days.
The event on Monday registered as a G4 , and also registered an S3 and an R2 on the Solar Radiation and Radio Blackout scales. These ratings didn't seem to affect the air industry or cause any other failures.
That said; a severe solar storm brings the potential to disrupt day-to-day life, and according to The Weather Network's Scott Sutherland:
Solar flares are beautiful, mesmerizing and spectacular to behold, and their interaction with Earth's magnetic field can set off awe-inspiring displays of the Northern and Southern Lights. They're also frightening, as they can easily dwarf the size of our homeworld, and they're dangerous, because the interaction of powerful flares with Earth's magnetic field can set off strong geomagnetic storms that can cause damage to satellites, as well as radio blackouts and even power blackouts on the ground.
Although avoiding one of these powerful flares would be next to impossible, knowing more about them can give us the ability to predict the worst potential effects from them, and protect our vulnerable technologies from being damaged.
Skywatchers got a treat in the overnight hours of Monday into Tuesday, as the geomagnetic storm produced stunning auroras. Paired with the severe weather Canadians saw those days as well, the mix of auroras and lightning sent photographers out in to the evening to capture the two together.
The collision of particles has already brought unbelievable, and even rare, displays of auroras to the southern hemisphere, with astronaut Scott Kelly posting photos to the International Space Station's (ISS) Instagram account. Kelly commented on the redness of the flare, and how it is an unusual sight. Auroras are caused by the way that the storm interacts with the top levels of our atmosphere. The red colour tends to come only during the most intense solar activity, and happens at the highest part of the atmosphere.
Astronaut Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) took this photo of an aurora on day 87 of his #YearInSpace mission. Kelly is testing the limits of human research, space exploration and the human spirit. Most expeditions to the space station last four to six months. By doubling the length of this mission, researchers hope to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to long-duration spaceflight. This knowledge is critical as we look toward human journeys deeper into the solar system, including to and from Mars, which could last 500 days or longer. #space #spacestation #nasa #aurora
The last notable display made for a dazzling St. Patrick's Day lightshow.
-- With files from Leeanna McLean
WATCH: Beautiful auroras witnessed from outer space: