Mystery ‘surprise’ solar storm hits Earth, leaving forecasters baffled – and effects could last for days

A SOLAR storm hit Earth over the weekend, causing a temporary disturbance in the planet’s magnetosphere.

The storm was caused by an unexpected coronal mass ejection (CME) embedded in the solar wind, according to The Express.

A solar storm hit Earth this weekend, causing a temporary disturbance in Earth's magnetosphere.

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A solar storm hit Earth this weekend, causing a temporary disturbance in Earth’s magnetosphere.Photo credit: Getty
Solar storms create light shows like the Northern Lights

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Solar storms create light shows like the Northern LightsPhoto credit: AFP-Getty

A CME occurs when the Sun ejects a cloud of charged particles and electromagnetic fluctuations from its atmosphere.

They are one of the strongest forms of a solar storm.

“A small G1 class geomagnetic storm erupted at midnight (UT) on June 25-26,” experts at Spaceweather.com said.

“Forecasters aren’t sure why. The prime suspect is an unexpected CME embedded in the solar wind.

“So far, no auroras have been reported from the six-hour storm.”

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Because the solar storm has been rated G1, it is minor and will cause only minor power grid fluctuations and minor impacts on satellite communications.

Space weather expert Dr. Tamitha Skov said on Twitter on Saturday: “Fast solar wind hits Earth!

“Expect choppy to stormy conditions for the next 48-72 hours.

“High-latitude Aurora trackers should get good shows with sporadic views in mid-latitudes.

“Ham radio operators will be watching for minor disturbances and the propagation of aurora borealis during #FieldDay weekend.”

When CME is pointed at Earth, it amplifies the Aurora Borealis and Australis.

These natural light shows are created when particles from the solar wind excite atoms in Earth’s upper atmosphere, causing them to glow.

The resulting wavy patterns often resemble curtains of green and pink light seen in the Northern Lights.

Another type of solar storm are solar flares. “A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation or light on the Sun,” according to NASA.

“Solar flares are sudden bursts of energy caused by entangling, crossing, or rearranging magnetic field lines near sunspots.”

A giant sunspot was spotted last week on June 20th.

“Today it’s huge. The fast-growing sunspot has doubled in size in just 24 hours,” reported SpaceWeather.com.

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“The explosive heat of a solar flare can’t make it to our globe, but electromagnetic radiation and energetic particles certainly can,” NASA said.

“Solar flares can temporarily change the upper atmosphere and cause interference in the signal transmission from, say, a GPS satellite to Earth, causing it to be many meters away.”