Over the weekend, a crack opened in Earth’s magnetic field allowing solar wind to pour in and fuel a strong G3 Geomagnetic Storm.
Initial reports from NOAA stated Earth’s passing through a coronal mass ejection (CME) was the reason for the storm.
But later study revealed our magnetic field simply opened up (early Aug 26) and allowed plasma to pour in.
This opening did not coincide with the earlier ‘minor’ CME which arrived Aug 25 to little fanfare.
First contact with the CME barely registered in solar wind data, and Earth’s magnetic field was unperturbed.
The action only began after Earth entered the CME’s wake, where strong south-pointing magnetic fields opened a crack in our planet’s magnetosphere.
A surprise geomagnetic storm ensued.
A reduction in solar activity weakens Earth’s magnetic field but outbursts from the sun can still occur, meaning we’ll be hit when our shields are down.
Moving forward, solar outbursts once classed as insignificant now have the potential to adversely impact our modern way of life.
[Featured Photo: auroras over Fairbanks, Alaska by Ayumi Bakken]