The Sun, which is becoming increasingly active as its new solar cycle becomes more and more violent, exploded a Coronal Mass Ejection that is headed towards Earth. The Center of Excellence in Space Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, estimates that a massive surge of energy and plasma will hit Earth on Thursday.
Coronal mass ejection is one of the biggest eruptions from the Sun’s surface that can contain a billion tons of matter accelerated to several million miles per hour into space. This solar material streams out through the interplanetary medium, impacting any planet or spacecraft in its path. When a really strong CME blows past the Earth, it can damage the electronics in our satellites and disrupt radio communication networks on Earth.
The solar flares were released from the active regions 12975 and 12976 on the Sun on March 28. The Center said that as these flares strike Earth’s magnetic field there is a possibility of coronal mass ejection induced moderate geomagnetic storms. ” Our model fit indicates a very high probability of Earth impact on 31 March with speeds ranging between 496-607 km/s,” the center said in a tweet. (1 kmps = 3600 kmph).
CESSI also flagged new sunspots on the surface of the Sun that could produce more flares in the future. “AR12975 and AR12976 have magnetically connected and continue to be flagged as M/X class flare productive, with reasonable chances of producing an X class flare. AR 12978 is also now being flagged as flare positive,” it said.
The US-based Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also corroborated the observation and predicted a G3 class strong geomagnetic storm to hit Earth on March 31. It warned that surface charging may occur on satellite components, drag may increase on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems. ” Intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur, HF radio may be intermittent,” Noaa said in a warning.