On January 2, two filaments of magnetism situated in the sun’s southern hemisphere had become unstable and erupted. The double blasts were huge and led to the eruption of several particles into space and now experts think these can hit our planet.
According to Spaceweather.com, the close dual eruptions led to hurling of coronal mass ejection or CME to Earth. The site stated that while the first CME was slow moving, the second CME was a lot faster and hence if their time of blast is taken into consideration along with their speeds, there is the possibility of the two CMEs combining together to form a bigger CME. preliminary calculations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggested that these CMEs could hit our planet on January 6.
NOAA defines coronal mass ejections as “large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona”. This ejected coronal material can weigh in billions of tons and hence be stronger than the background solar wind interplanetary magnetic field. These ejections often have their own magnetic field thereby making their impact even stronger. As per the site, the CMEs can expand in size while they are moving away from the sun and bigger CMEs can expand to a size “comprising nearly a quarter of the space between Earth and the Sun” by the time it has travelled the distance to our world.
The blast in question occurred on the sun because of instability displayed by dark filaments. These filaments are twisted tubes of magnetism which carry solar plasma. These appear darker in colour while captured from satellites and this is because the plasma inside the filaments is only comparatively cooler than the underlying sun. if not compared to the sun, these particles would be very bright and hot.
These filaments can get unstable at times and erupt, something which happened on January 2. Now a video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows exactly how the eruptions took place. We can clearly see two dark snake-like filaments taking flight and soon erupting while hurling a lot of solar mass into space.
According to a report by Express UK, if the CMEs do end up hitting our planet, we might see Auroras which includes the northern and southern lights. However, researchers do point out that the impact of a solar storm and irregular space weather can be more serious than the Auroras.