The earth has an nemesis of the sun and it is called the CME storm or CME-induced solar storm.
The sun has been blowing more and more powerful solar storms toward Earth since early 2022. And this will continue until 2023 when it reaches the peak of its maximum solar phase and that poses a major problem for the Earth. While most of these storms have been largely harmless, some have had devastating effects on us. Earlier this year, 40 Starlink satellites were destroyed by a solar storm and today they regularly disrupt shortwave radio transmission and the functioning of GPS. These solar storms, which cause noticeable damage to Earth, are called CME storms or coronal mass ejection storms. But what are these and how do they differ from an ordinary solar storm? Read on to find out.
Technology Behind Solar Orbiter and How It Sees These CME Storms
The Solar Orbiter is a sun-observing satellite developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and operated by both ESA and NASA. The satellite is equipped with state-of-the-art technical instruments to observe and spot solar storms and CME storms. The satellite contains Solar Wind Plasma Analyzer, an instrument that contains an array of sensors that can measure the density, speed and temperature of the solar winds. It also includes a magnetometer to measure the magnetic field of a solar storm and a radio and plasma wave (RPW) that determines the characteristics of electromagnetic and electrostatic waves in the solar wind.
What is a CME storm and how dangerous is it?
A CME storm is simply a solar storm caused by CME particles hitting the magnetosphere. There are many ways the sun can create a solar storm-like effect on the Earth. The most common of these are radiation-based solar storms, which occur when a solar flare erupts on the sun, sending powerful radiation toward Earth. These travel the fastest and are notorious for causing radio interference on Earth. Another type of solar storm is the CIR-activated solar storm. CIR (co-rotating interaction region) are the cracks in the magnetosphere caused when solar winds of different speed or orientation approach Earth at the same time. It temporarily weakens the magnetosphere, letting in more solar radiation than usual and causing geomagnetic storms.
A CME storm differs from the two in that it is caused when a sunspot explodes and sends solar particles (plasma) along with high magnetic and radiant waves. The presence of solar particles slows down the speed, and it generally takes 24-48 hours for the solar storm to reach Earth. But once it reaches it, it can have devastating consequences. It can damage satellites, interrupt wireless transmission such as GPS, cellular networks and Internet connections, and damage power grids. The most horrific example of a CME storm was the Carrington event that occurred in 1859.