Filaments of plasma have erupted from a fiery canyon on the Sun’s surface, releasing powerful streams of magnetised solar wind that might result in geomagnetic storms and auroras on Earth.
According to Space Weather, the “canyon of fire” is at least 20,000 kilometres deep and 10 times as long.
In a statement, the UK weather forecaster Met Office confirmed two “filament eruptions” – on April 3 and the second on April 4 – occurred in the south-central part of the Sun.
Satellites in the extreme ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum and ground telescopes equipped to observe in the warmth-carrying infrared wavelengths were both able to see the eruptions.
Both eruptions were accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), or expulsions of charged plasma from the Sun’s upper atmosphere or the corona, the Met office said in a statement.
When a CME hits Earth, it can wreak havoc with the planet’s magnetic field, causing a geomagnetic storm. Powerful geomagnetic storms can disrupt satellite links and damage electronics in orbit, Space.com reported.
In some cases, these storms can even disturb power networks on the ground. On the other hand, geomagnetic storms also treat skywatchers on Earth to mesmerising aurora displays.
While the CME related to Sunday’s eruption is likely to trigger only a mild geomagnetic storm, level G1 or G2 on a five-point scale, it is not known yet whether the CME produced by the Monday eruption will hit the planet, the Met Office said.
According to the Met Office, Earth’s geomagnetic environment will likely get quieter in the coming days since the overactive sunspot that has been responsible for a recent burst of activity has rotated away from the Earth-facing position.
In March, at least 17 solar eruptions were blasted into space from a single sunspot on the Sun. The sun eruptions originated from an overactive sunspot, called AR2975.
Sunspots are eruptions on the sun that occur when magnetic lines twist and suddenly realign near the visible surface, and at times, these explosions are associated with CMEs.
The year 2022 is expected to be relatively quiet for the Sun overall, as we are still towards the beginning of the 11-year solar cycle of activity that began in December 2019. Cycle beginnings usually have fewer sunspots and fewer eruptions. Activity should increase as we approach the peak, forecasted to be in mid-2025, the report said.