A minor solar storm from the hole in the sun’s atmosphere will hit Earth on Wednesday

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An artistic representation of a solar storm. | Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

High-velocity solar winds from a “hole” in the sun’s atmosphere are expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field on Wednesday, August 3, triggering a minor geomagnetic storm G-1. The prediction was made by forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) after observing that “gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun’s atmosphere,” according to Spaceweather. .com.

Officially known as coronal holes, these are areas of the sun’s upper atmosphere where our star’s electrified gas (or plasma) is cooler and less dense, MSN reports. The holes are also where the sun’s magnetic field lines radiate out into space rather than looping in on themselves. As a result, solar material can surge in a wave and travel at speeds of up to 1.8 million mph (2.9 million km/h), according to the Exploratorium, a science museum in San Francisco. .

On planets with strong magnetic fields like Earth, this pulse of solar debris is absorbed, resulting in geomagnetic storms. During these storms, the Earth’s magnetic field is slightly compressed by the waves of highly energetic particles. According to MSN, these particles stream along magnetic field lines near the poles and agitate molecules in the atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light to create colorful auroras, similar to those that create the Northern Lights.

The geomagnetic storm produced by the debris will be weak. As a G1 geomagnetic storm, it has the potential to cause minor fluctuations in power grids and impact some satellite functions, including those of mobile devices and GPS systems. It will also bring auroras as far south as Michigan and Maine.

Fortunately for humanity, it will be minor; scientists say extreme storms would likely cause more damage, such as knocking out satellites and even potentially shutting down the internet. This storm comes as the sun enters its most active phase of its approximately 11-year solar cycle.

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