A solar storm, also known as a geomagnetic storm, is a severe disruption of the magnetosphere that happens when energy from the solar wind is exchanged with the space environment around Earth. 


What are solar storms?

 A solar storm, also known as a geomagnetic storm, is a severe disruption of the magnetosphere that happens when energy from the solar wind is exchanged with the space environment around Earth. 

Solar storms are brought on by the sunspots' discharge of magnetic energy, known as solar winds.

Variations in the solar wind, which result in significant changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in the magnetosphere of Earth, are the cause of these storms.

Why do solar storms occur?

Solar storms occur when the Sun releases powerful energy bursts in the form of coronal mass ejections and solar flares. These occurrences rapidly send high-speed electrical charges and magnetic fields toward the Earth.

Magnetic plasma is ejected from the solar surface during solar storms at a high rate of speed. They can persist for a few minutes or several hours and are caused by the release of magnetic energy from sunspots, which are 'black' areas of the Sun that are cooler than the 

surrounding photosphere.

The following solar wind parameters must be present for geomagnetic storms to form:

  • Several days of the fast solar wind
  • At the dayside of the magnetosphere, a magnetic field of the solar wind that is headed southward and is the opposite of the Earth's magnetic field

These conditions adequately transfer energy from the solar wind into Earth's magnetosphere.

Types of solar storms

  1.  Solar flares: A solar flare is an abrupt increase in brightness on the Sun that is typically seen close to its surface or near a group of sunspots.
  2. Coronal Mass Ejection (CME): The solar corona releases much plasma with a magnetic field. They frequently appear after solar flares and are typically seen during an eruption of a solar prominence.
  3. Geomagnetic Storm: A geomagnetic storm is a brief disruption of the Earth's magnetosphere brought on by an interaction between the solar wind shock and the planet's magnetic field.
  4. Solar Particle Events: A solar particle event, also known as a solar proton event (SPE), or prompt proton event, occurs when particles (primarily protons) emitted by the Sun are accelerated either by coronal mass ejection shocks in interplanetary space or by flares that occur close to the Sun during the event.

What will be the impact of solar storms?  

  • Everything is dependent on each solar storm separately. The Earth's magnetic field, or magnetosphere, usually keeps dangerous intrusions at bay; the CME would only be dangerous if the magnetic field were to become overextended.
  • On the side of the planet that faces the Sun, the magnetic field has a radius of roughly 65,000 km, which is well beyond the reach of Earth's satellites. (In reality, the solar winds compress the magnetic field on the dayside to 65,000 km; the magnetosphere is substantially larger on the night side.)
  • There is little we can do to prevent satellites from being lost if a large CME happens. Only nations in the upper and lower latitudes are at risk of being impacted by a large CME regarding earth-based infrastructures like power grids and telecom networks. India is generally safe because it is close to the equator.
  • Solar storms and flares close enough to Earth can affect the upper atmosphere and the space weather in the planet's vicinity.
  • Global positioning systems (GPS), radio, and satellite communications operations may be impacted by solar storms.
  • GPS navigation systems and high-frequency radio communications are both affected by geomagnetic storms.
  • Programs for space research, electricity networks, and aircraft operations are all at risk.

How are solar storms predicted?

Solar Storms or geomagnetic storms are predicted by:

  • Solar physicists and scientists use computer models to predict solar storms and other solar activity. 
  • The date and speed of a storm's arrival can be predicted using current models. However, it is impossible to predict the storm's structure or orientation.

As a result of the magnetic field orientations, the magnetosphere may react more strongly, resulting in more powerful magnetic storms. It is crucial to enhance space weather forecasts and develop more effective ways to protect satellites because the world is increasingly dependent on them for most operations.

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