Watch: Massive explosion on the Sun sends billions of tons of plasma to the Earth, could cause blackouts

A massive explosion on the Sun's surface that was caused by a gas pocket going ablaze, has released billions of tons of plasma particles that are coming towards the Earth. The plasma particles are part of solar flares that can cause a major blackout in some places.

Mehul Reuben Das April 28, 2023 10:17:00 IST
Watch: Massive explosion on the Sun sends billions of tons of plasma to the Earth, could cause blackouts

A massive explosion on the Sun's surface that was caused by a gas pocket going ablaze, has released billions of tons of plasma particles that are coming towards the Earth. The plasma particles are part of solar flares that can cause a major blackout in some places.

This week, a gigantic explosion on the sun’s surface ejected billions of tonnes of plasma, which is expected to impact Earth today. The explosion, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), ejected plasma from the sun’s southwest quadrant, propelling it towards Earth with the aid of powerful solar winds.

According to predictions, the particles have a 50 per cent probability of disrupting satellites in Earth’s orbit and a 10 per cent chance of causing blackouts. The stream includes powerful radiation that can disrupt Earth’s technology. 


Geomagnetic storm incoming
The solar winds are also projected to cause a G1 geomagnetic storm, which might affect satellites orbiting in the region of space. CMEs have the potential to release billions of tonnes of corona material from the sun’s surface. Plasma and magnetic fields make up the substance.

Also read: Scientists spotted a super flare originating hundreds of light years away, more powerful than those on our Sun sends out

Such eruptions have the potential to cause space weather, which may disrupt satellites and electrical infrastructures on Earth and be dangerous to exposed astronauts.

The European Space Agency’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, which studies our sun, captured it. And the CME particles are only hitting Earth by chance, as the stream was discharged from a coronal hole facing our planet. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that the Earth’s magnetic field will be interrupted at 6 p.m. ET tonight, with the disruption lasting until Friday.

According to EarthSky, the Earth’s magnetic field has been ‘unsettled’ since Thursday and will remain so for the next 24 hours as high-speed solar winds pour through the coronal hole. Three coronal holes on the sun’s surface have been detected, as have seven sunspots.

What are sunspots?
Sunspots are black areas of the Sun that are colder than the rest of the surface. Solar flares are caused by dark parts of the star. These areas are responsible for solar flares and coronal mass ejections. 

When they erupt in the direction of Earth, they may cause geomagnetic storms that generate stunning auroras while also posing a threat to electrical networks and satellites. On Thursday, the sun also emitted a ‘cannibal’ CME on the solar disk’s northeastern edge, pointing away from Earth.

This cannibal CME will have no effect on our planet. It is moving away from us, according to SpaceWeather.com. The sun is an extraordinary cosmic ball of gas that continues to astound astronomers with its perplexing behaviour.

In February, a portion of the sun’s northern pole broke off, causing one of these events.

Also read: WATCH: Huge portion of the Sun breaks off from the surface, swirls around its North Pole

A video depicts a large filament of plasma, or electrified gas, blasting out from the sun, splitting, and then circling in a ‘vast polar vortex.’ While scientists are perplexed, they believe the prominence is related to the reversal of the sun’s magnetic field, which occurs during per solar cycle.

A regular occurrence
Solar filaments are clouds of charged particles that float above the sun and are held together by magnetic forces. These look like extended, irregular strands shooting out from the surface of the sun.

“Once per solar cycle, it originates near the 55-degree latitude and begins to march up to the solar poles,” said Scott McIntosh, deputy director of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

“It’s pretty strange. It raises a lot of ‘why’ questions. Why does it only migrate towards the pole once before disappearing and reappearing three or four years later in the same region?” said McIntosh.

While scientists have previously detected filaments breaking away from the sun, this is the first time a whirlwind has passed through the area.

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