Posted: 12 Nov 2021 03:23 GMT
The experts recalled that the phenomenon could have consequences for people, such as problems in electrical networks and interference in communications.
In recent days the Earth has been hit by a large geomagnetic storm resulting from a series of outbursts on the surface of the Sun, raising concerns about so-called “cannibalistic” solar storms, reports the Space.com portal.
These eruptions have been monitored since early November by the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since then, several coronal mass ejections (known as CMEs) have been detected, consisting of clouds of billions of tons of plasma gas with magnetic fields of radiation and wind billowing from our star.
Although the phenomenon is part of the normal life cycles of the Sun, which usually last 11 years, the concern of scientists lies in the effects it could have on our planet. The SWPC warned of the possible consequences of current magnetic storms on people’s lives such as voltage irregularities in the power grid, false alarms in security devices and intermittent satellite navigation (GPS) problems.
This week’s geomagnetic storm showed one of the worst scenarios according to observers, as it originated thanks to the merger of bursts of different CMEs, when a subsequent ejection moved faster than its predecessor. “That first CME essentially made its way through about 150 million kilometers and almost made way for other CMEs to come in behind it. Sometimes we use the term ‘cannibalize’ the one in front,” explained Bill Murtagh, SWPC coordinator. .
The specialist pointed out that so far these scenarios are manageable, but with the “cannibalistic” CME phenomenon, where several ejections come together, geomagnetic storms could interfere with the Earth’s infrastructure, affecting communication systems and electrical devices. .
This type of damage has already been registered in the past. According to NASA, in the Canadian province of Quebec a solar storm caused a 12-hour blackout in 1989, while the US experienced power losses; and in 1859 one of the largest known solar storms wiped out telegraph systems and brought auroras to Hawaii.