We are in the midst of a powerful geomagnetic storm - actually, the most powerful geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle. We had a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) which hit our planet’s magnetosphere around 4:30 UT Tuesday. When that first occurred there was a mild storm initiated, but since it hasblossomed into a G4 class. Below is a small table that identifies the five classes (think about it, we are at four and there are five!). As you can see, it can cause some issues – from sporadic loss of communications to possible tracking and surface charging in spacecraft, to the ‘accidental’ tripping of someprotective systems from the power grid.
A geometric storm has three phases- the initial, the main phase and the recovery phase. The first phase, which was not so severe, could be classified as a relatively mild one, but then the main phase which theoretically has a life between two and eight hours was not only yesterday afternoon but also late this morning various space weather sites continued the beware advising planes traveling the polar routes they may wish to change their path as communications may be disrupted…The final phase, or recovery, is the period when Dst changes from its minimum values to its quite time value. As this storm is predicted to last 24-36 hours, 10 pm-ish tonight would be a fair guess.
In the Paper: MAGNETOSPHERE BEHAVIOUR DURINGTHE RECOVERY PHASE OF GEOMAGNETIC STORMS, the terrestrial magnetosphere once disturbed by a highly magnetized flow from the solar surface, gently recoups it’s settled state. An exponential relationship exists between the height of the storm and the lessening of the disturbance. It is stated that the storm quiets that much more rapidly the stronger the storm is. If that in fact is true then it shall get calm extremely fast once we make it to that phase!
HOPEFULLY though it takes it time or at least allows us to seeone more nightfall - as the pictures below will attest, the solar storms are nothing short of spectacular!
Some Heliophysicists have suggested that we should worry duea number of reasons – both the sudden appearance of one of thesunspots which is a size equal to 6 Earths two – the Earth directed CME expulsed by the Sun on Sunday surprised everyone as it reached Earth faster than expected. (Usually you want to allow ~three days for a CME to hit the Earth!) We have been in the down side of the Solar Cycle for some time and really should have seen the worst of it years ago – but that doesn’t seem to be the case, quite the contrary in fact.
Regardless is the worst yet to come as some predict or will the Sun calm down now and act its age? I fear the more active is the correct answer, but there really is only one way to find out. Later this month the MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale) is due to launch from Cape Canaveral. It has a mission to study the magnetic fields around Earth and the interconnecting as well as disconnecting to/from the Suns. In other words, to study the portals that briefly connect us and our Sun. Why? Because these portals or if you will, wormholes that exist between the Sun and the Earth’s poles allow the Suns harmful rays to bypass our atmosphere and theoretically cause damage. NASA wants to study this and see what can learn. (Not to change the subject but perhaps we’ll learn how to ‘make’ these portals – StarGateany one?)
To make one more Sci-Fi type reference, this inexplicable activity of the Sun could be nothing, but it could be the Earth has begun to experience what will climax in activity much like that of the first book of the series Sanacion: The Black Hole Mission – of course there were many things going on such as Climate Change….
The Sun is a topic that is terribly interesting but alas my time is up!