November 29, 2022

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A ‘cannibal’ solar centrifuge heading straight to Earth could bring the northern lights as far south as Illinois and lead to power voltage problems.

A 'cannibal' solar centrifuge heading straight to Earth could bring the northern lights as far south as Illinois and lead to power voltage problems.

The sun may send a storm to Earth over the next few days. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, our fiery star unleashed a series of explosions Sunday heading toward our planet that could trigger a powerful geomagnetic storm.

One of those eruptions, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, is expected to collide and consume another, creating what’s called a cannibal CME event. According to The Weather Channel, these events can trigger powerful geomagnetic storms — in which case, they’re headed in our direction.

NASA image of the sun, showing solar flare and coronal mass ejection
This 2004 image from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory shows a solar flare, right, that erupted from giant sunspot 649, sending a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space.

NASA SOHO/AFP via Getty Images


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects the ejections to occur Thursday, but before that happens, the agency said the Earth will also collapse on Wednesday with a relatively fast solar wind, known as a coronal hole recurring high-speed current. The solar wind alone can cause a slight geomagnetic storm on Wednesday, but so are these conditions It is expected to escalate For strong conditions, known as G3, once solar flares appear.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said at least four of the coronal mass ejections have the potential to directly impact Earth.

Geomagnetic storms arranged on A Scale From the G1 to the G5, with the G5 being the most extreme. In such a situation, there would be widespread voltage control issues and some power grids could experience a “complete breakdown or blackout,” according to NOAA.

A G3 storm, such as that expected, may require that some power voltage systems need to be rectified and can also result in some false alarms on the power protection devices.

Such a storm can also create a beautiful side effect – visible northern lights outside of their usual realm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration previously said the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, can be seen as far south as Illinois and Oregon if they hit the G3.

When the CME hit Earth on Wednesday, it triggered a G2 geomagnetic storm and the aurora borealis seen in Herzogswald, Germany, according to the British newspaper The Guardian. spaceweather.com, which tracks the latest data from NOAA. Herzogswald is located at 51 degrees north latitude, roughly in line with central Quebec and Ontario in Canada. As spaceweather.com noted, the lights were visible in that city through “clouds, fog, and urban lights.”

On Thursday morning, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that Impact area They are mostly 50°N regions and beyond, adding that the aurora borealis may be visible at higher latitudes such as Canada and Alaska.

Also Wednesday, NASA astronaut Bob Haynes, a pilot for the SpaceX Crew-4 mission that launched in April, shared his own images of the northern lights as seen from space. He pointed to the recent solar activity to create the extravaganza.

Where and how intense the lights will be is best estimated by NOAA 30 to 90 minutes in advance. Radar shows that on Thursday morning at about 2:45 a.m. ET, the probability of seeing aurora borealis from North Dakota, Minnesota, and most of Canada increased dramatically.

A short-term forecast of the lights can be found over here.

Northern Lights over the Minnesota sky
The aurora borealis can be seen on the northern horizon in the night sky over Lake Wolf in the Cloquet State Forest in Minnesota in the early hours of the morning on September 28, 2019.

Alex Corman/Star Tribune via Getty Images


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