Earth was attacked by a solar super storm on Tuesday, August 20, sending giant clouds of extremely heated particles directly towards us.
The storm, known as coronal mass ejection (CME) took place at 4:24 a.m. EDT (0824 GMT) on Tuesday and unleashed billions of tons of solar particles toward Earth at an unimaginable speed of two million miles per hour (mph).
“Experimental NASA research models based on observations from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, show that the CME left the sun at speeds of around 570 miles per second, which is a fairly typical speed for CMEs,” NASA officials wrote in an update on Tuesday.
NASA’s twin Stereo spacecraft and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, captured spectacular photos of the solar storm from space.
The solar particles released by the sun typically take two to three days to reach the planet. At that time they can create geomagnetic storms that can disrupt communications, GPS devices, and power grids.
As powerful as it sounds, Tuesday solar storm doesn’t appear to have enough power to cause too much trouble on planet Earth.
NASA officials said that in the past CMEs of this strength have been mild.
CMEs that reach Earth can also make the auroras or Northern and Southern Lights more visible. In some areas a display may be visible on Tuesday and Wednesday thanks to a CME that occurred on Saturday, August 17.
Even though this storm will not hit Earth directly, the planet will most likely cruise through what’s left of the cloud once it passes by, according to experts.
SpaceWeather.com reported that this could cause polar geomagnetic storms, in spite of the fact that the CME is off target.
“High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on August 20-21.” the website suggested.
According to Space.com, the sun is reaching its peak activity phase of its current 11-year-cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24. It is proving to be the weakest in the past 100 years with relatively few solar storms, CMEs, and other weather events.
[Images via Space.com]