The dazzling northern lights can illuminate the sky as far south as the northern United States after detecting 17 solar flares that exploded from a single sunspot, two of which are straight toward the earth.
The two Earth-directed eruptions merged into a “cannibal coronal mass ejection” and ran toward us at 1,881,263 miles per hour (3,027,599 kilometers per hour).
When it crashes into the Earth’s magnetic field on the night of March 30, the result will be a powerful G3 geomagnetic storm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).
G3 storms are classified as strong geomagnetic storms, meaning that the upcoming solar explosion could bring the aurora as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon.
The sunspot, called AR2975, has been shooting torches of electrically charged particles from the Sun’s plasma soup since Monday (March 28).
Solar spots are areas on the Sun’s surface where powerful magnetic fields, created by the flow of electric charges, knot into kinks before suddenly breaking. The resulting release of energy launches bursts of radiation called solar flames, or explosive rays of solar material called coronal mass emissions (CMEs).
Related: Strange new type of sunwave defies physics
Cannibal coronal mass ejections occur when fast-moving solar eruptions catch up with earlier eruptions in the same area of space, sweeping charged particles to form a giant, combined wavefront that unleashes a powerful geomagnetic storm.
The “madness” of solar flares meant that “at least two full halos” [Earth striking] CMEs emerged from the chaos, “SpaceWeather.com wrote of the event. The second CME is expected to catch up and” cannibalize “the first before hitting Earth’s magnetic field around March 23 at around 23:00 ET time. hit.
CMEs usually take about 15 to 18 hours to reach Earth, according to the SWPC.
When they do, the Earth’s magnetic field is slightly compressed by the waves of highly energetic particles, which wrinkle magnetic field lines and stir molecules into the atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light to create colorful auroras in the night sky.
The energy of the storm is expected to be harmlessly absorbed by our magnetic field, but major solar storms still have the potential to wreak havoc. G3 storms could cause “intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems,” according to SWPC.
A recent storm in February sent 40 Starlink satellites back to Earth, Live Science reported earlier, and scientists warned that an even bigger one could have the potential to paralyze the Internet around the world.
Scientists think that the largest solar storm ever seen in contemporary history was the Carrington event of 1859, which carried about the same energy as 10 billion 1-megaton atomic bombs.
After the powerful stream of sun particles hit the Earth, telegram systems roasted all over the world, making aurora appear brighter than the light of the full moon as far south as the Caribbean Islands.
If a similar event happened today, it would cause trillions of dollars in damage and widespread eclipse, much like the solar storm that caused the Quebec eclipse in 1989, according to scientists.
15 unforgettable images of stars
This article was originally published by Live Science. Read the original article here.