A HUGE arc of electrified gas has erupted from the sun, sending out solar radiation heading straight for Earth.
The solar filament – a plasma curve in the star’s atmosphere – is at least 12,400 miles (20,000 km) deep and 10 times as long.
Accordingly SpaceWeather.comtracking the Sun’s activity, fragments emerging from the blast site are coming in that direction.
They are known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and are expected to arrive on Wednesday.
As soon as they reach Earth, they trigger what is known as a geomagnetic storm – a largely harmless disturbance of the magnetic field.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, geomagnetic storms can disrupt satellites and even momentarily shut down power grids.
However, smaller storms, such as those expected by the filament, pose no threat to technology on Earth.
Instead, the radioactive tremors trigger northern lights by energizing particles in the atmosphere.
Images of the filament – by US astronomer Dr. Described by Tony Phillips, who runs SpaceWeather, as a “canyon of fire” – were captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Sunday.
A second filament appeared on Monday, according to space weather trackers.
The Met Office confirmed that two “filament outbursts” have occurred in the south-central part of the Sun.
“Magnetic filaments are plasma-filled tubes of magnetism that snake through the Sun’s atmosphere,” explained Dr. Phillips.
“They easily become unstable and erupt, hurling fragments of themselves into space.
“A CME from just such an eruption is expected to graze Earth’s magnetic field on April 6.”
Geomagnetic storms are caused by CMEs and solar flares, which are giant ejections of hot material called plasma from the Sun’s outer layer.
They can cause the appearance of colorful auroras by energizing particles in our planet’s atmosphere
Each solar storm is graded by severity on a scale of one to five, with G1 denoting “minor” and G5 denoting “extreme.”
At the high end of the scale, storms wreak havoc on our planet’s magnetic field, which can disrupt power grids and communications networks.
“Harmful radiation from a flare cannot penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and physically affect people on the ground,” NASA says.
“However – if they are intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communication signals propagate.”
Fortunately, this week’s geomagnetic storms are unlikely to significantly affect life or technology on Earth.
In the past, major solar flares wreaked havoc on our planet.
In 1989, a powerful solar flare shot down so many electrically charged particles that the Canadian province of Quebec was without electricity for nine hours.
Not only can they cause problems for our technology, but they can also harm astronauts working on the International Space Station, either by exposing them to radiation or by interfering with mission control communications.
The Earth’s magnetic field helps protect us from the more extreme effects of solar flares.
The sun is currently at the beginning of a new 11-year solar cycle, during which flares and flares usually become more intense and extreme.
These events are expected to peak around 2025, and there is hope that NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft will observe them all as it aims to fly within 26 million miles of the Sun.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8616474/erupting-canyon-fire-sun-northern-lights/ The eruption of a 12,000-mile-deep ‘gorge of fire’ has opened up on the Sun – and could cause Northern Lights this week