Earth barely escaped the strongest in the last 150 years of geomagnetic storms

Eau fastest coronal mass ejection on record

July 23, 2012 a massive cloud of solar material was ejected from the right (looking from the Earth) the Sun in space.

Event registered Observatory solar-terrestrial interaction (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory, STEREO) NASA. After analyzing the data it was found that this had a coronal mass ejection rate between 2880 and 3520 km / s.

STEREO was able to estimate the rate of release in the first place, because this mission provides data from two devices that are in different locations. One ahead of Earth in its rotation around the sun, and the other, on the contrary, is falling behind:

This allows you to observe light from two different points at different angles, using stereoscopic and three-dimensional images of what is happening. Actually, the most important task of STEREO is just the tracking of coronal mass ejections on the sun. The point is that knowing about them in advance, you can prepare for this terrible phenomenon of geomagnetic storm large and extra large sizes. When the star leaves the emissions, it becomes a cloud of particles with good magnetic field, a kind of "magnetic cloud". Reaching the Earth, it can seriously affect its magnetosphere, causing auroras, magnetic storms, does not operate anything related to electricity, and has deteriorated radio conditions.

Fortunately, our generation is faced with a really large-scale event of this nature. But slight idea of it can give geomagnetic storm August 28 — September 2, 1859, known as the "solar supershtorm." Then the Sun there were numerous spots and flares, and on September 1, the British astronomer Richard Carrington observed a huge flash and a large ultrafast provoke coronal mass ejection. He hit the Earth in 18 hours, which gives an average speed of about 2300 km / s. Previously it was thought that it is very fast, because usually release comes to the planet for a few days, at rates far below the 1000 km / s. However, after the July STEREO-measurements in 1859 seems not such a record.

The result was an apocalypse due: September 1-2, the year started the largest ever recorded geomagnetic storm, completely interrupt the telegraph service in Europe and North America. At the same time the northern lights got to Cuba and Jamaica, which, as can be seen from the name, is not too typical for this kind of weather phenomena.

Let us explain: a broken wire connection, usually attributable to the most robust. In our time, the devastation would be biblical: hardly computers and the more they are able to operate the network in such a geomagnetic activity, not to mention the loss of any wireless connection.

Why is the release on July 22 did not lead to a local "digital apocalypse?"

In short: just lucky; emissions passed by the Earth, which saved us from inevitable massive blackout. Yet such a powerful magnetic cloud passing through the area of the location of the Earth, of course, will trigger currents in pipelines and power cables, not to mention the massive failure of the satellite, including gangs GPS / GLONASS …

The magnetic field of the coronal mass ejection, measured STEREO devices at a distance of 1 a. AU from the Sun, was 80 nT — dramatically more than the strongest geomagnetic storm computer age (October 2003), and only 30 nT less than, according to current estimates, it was in 1859.

In addition to the magnetic field, the record coronal mass ejection brought to STEREO and powerful stream of photons. The total number of charged particles near one of the vehicles jumped after the release of 100 thousand times. As the magnetic field intensity was a record year on record.

According to estimates by NASA, in the case of "hits" release to land all high radio would be blocked for at least several hours. And in fact they are used in all sizes of aircraft pilots to communicate with the ground …

However, the chances of "eyecatcher" we still have: a maximum of solar activity is expected in 2013.

Prepared according to NASA.


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