Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sun Erupts with a Coronal Mass Ejection Toward Mercury

Archival image of a coronal mass ejection. Credit: NASA

Magnetic fields near the sun's western limb criss-crossed and exploded, sending a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space toward Mercury. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that this CME will miss both Mercury and Earth, therefore no major geomagnetic storms are expected as a result of the explosion.

A minor stream of solar wind hit Earth's magnetic field on October 7. Another emerging stream of gaseous material is expected to reach our planet during the late hours of October 10 or 11, what could result in polar geomagnetic storms and auroras.

Geomagnetic storms can increase the density and distribution of density in the upper atmosphere, causing extra drag on satellites in low-earth orbit. The local heating also creates strong horizontal variations in the in the ionospheric density that can modify the path of radio signals and create errors in the positioning information provided by GPS. While the storms create beautiful aurora, they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful geomagnetic induced currents in the power grid and pipelines.

NOAA reveals that solar activity is expected to be very low, with a slight chance for C-class activity throughout October. Geomagnetic field activity is expected to be at active levels on October 15 and 26-27. G1 (minor) storm levels are expected on October 11-14, while G2 (moderate) storm levels are forecasted for October 24. Moreover, NOAA expects G3 (strong) storm levels on October 25.

When it comes to R1 (minor) or greater radio blackouts, no such events are expected in the coming days.

NOAA underlines that all the increased activity is expected in response to multiple, recurrent coronal hole high speed streams. Quiet conditions are expected over the remainder of October.

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