December 4, 2021

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Scientists warn of "cannibal" solar storms heading towards Earth

Scientists warn of “cannibal” solar storms heading towards Earth

The Earth has been hit in recent days by a major geomagnetic storm caused by a series of eruptions on the surface of the Sun, raising concerns about so-called “cannibal” solar storms, Space.com reports.

These eruptions have been monitored since early November by the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since then, numerous coronal mass ejections (known as CMEs) have been detected, which consist of clouds of billions of tons of plasma gas with magnetic fields to radiate and winds pouring from our star.

Although this phenomenon is part of the sun’s natural life cycles, which usually last 11 years, scientists are concerned about the effects it could have on our planet. The center warned of the potential consequences of the current magnetic storms on people’s lives, such as voltage irregularities in the electricity network, false alarms in security services and intermittent satellite navigation problems.

This week’s geomagnetic storm showed one of the worst-case scenarios according to observers, arising thanks to the merging of various bursts of coronal mass ejections, when a subsequent ejection moved faster than the previous one. Bill Murtag, SWPC Coordinator, explained: “The first CME essentially made its way through some 150 million kilometres, almost giving way to other CME companies.

The specialist noted that so far these scenarios can be controlled, but with the phenomenon of “cannibals” CME, where many projectiles gather, geomagnetic storms can interfere with the Earth’s infrastructure, affecting communication systems and electrical devices.

This type of damage has already been recorded in the past. According to NASA, a solar storm in the Canadian province of Quebec caused a 12-hour blackout in 1989, while the United States suffered power losses; In 1859, one of the largest known solar storms wiped out telegraph systems and brought the aurora borealis to Hawaii.

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