On February 24th, the Sun ejected a strong coronal mass ejection that was predicted to reach Earth in the coming days. Eventually, the myriad of solar plasma impacted Earth and at this moment, there is an ongoing strong geomagnetic storm that has caused unusual auroras borealis at latitudes much closer to the equator than normal. That’s not all, a second collision of solar material is predicted to impact the magnetic field in the next few hours, which will reinforce the impressive views of lights in the night sky.
Coronal mass ejections are large explosions of plasma that occur in the magnetic field of the solar corona. They are produced by the exaggerated tension of the magnetic field lines that, when twisted, become too stressed and finally realign into less tense configurations, leaving behind a great expulsion of material from the solar corona. Then, the plasma travels to Earth and collides with the Earth’s magnetic field, producing what is known as geomagnetic storms, responsible for the sublime auroras borealis.
On February 24th, the Sun ejected a significant coronal mass ejection, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States warned that it would collide directly with Earth, thus issuing a G3 geomagnetic storm alert, which is considered strong on the hazard scale.
Later, NOAA confirmed the arrival of the solar plasma that caused a geomagnetic storm with fluctuations between G2 (moderate) and G3 (strong). Immediately, sightings of auroras borealis were reported in unusual regions as a result of the impact. The German federal states of Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, where it is extremely rare to witness auroras borealis, saw their skies tinted with reddish and purple colors as a result of the strong geomagnetic storm.
A second ejection will hit Earth
In addition to the current solar activity conditions, a second coronal mass ejection was launched by the host star of the Solar System on February 26th. NOAA warned that it is expected to reach the magnetic field in the coming days, which could result in a double blow of solar plasma.
According to the NOAA website, the current state is a G3 geomagnetic storm (strong), which is expected to prevail in the sky throughout February 27th. It also issued warnings of G2 (moderate) storms in the coming days, making it the ideal season to look up at the sky if you are within the northern geographic zones. According to the US agency, solar activity will continue until the first few days of March, although when it comes to space weather, it is very uncertain.
The Sun is heading towards its maximum in the 25th solar cycle, which has led to coronal holes appearing in the outermost layer of the star. This is a normal behavior where activity usually increases cyclically for a period and then decreases again during solar minimum. It is important to remember that solar storms do not pose a danger to life on Earth, they only interfere with satellite communications, but no major failures have been reported for now.
Story originally written in Spanish by Alejandra Martínez in Ecoosfera.