The science behind the storm


Oct. 29, 2003, midnight | By Shewit Woldu | 17 years, 2 months ago

Solar storm disrupts communication


According to the Washington Post, one of the most powerful geomagnetic storms in decades hit earth 12 hours earlier than expected.

The space weather forecasters at a federal laboratory located in Boulder said the first pulse of extremely charged particles barring down from the sun collided with earth's magnetic field at 1 a.m. eastern time on October 29.

Already the solar outburst has caused radio blackouts. One scientist thinks that the blackouts, which mostly affect aircraft that are flying far northern or southern latitudes, might continue on for weeks.

The geomagnetic storm was the result of a humongous solar flare that exploded from a sunspot on the sun's surface at 5:54 a.m. eastern time on October 28. The solar flare exerted energy into space and sent billions of charged particles and hot gas headed straight toward the earth at 5 million mph.

Earth System Science Magnet teacher Les Rogers explains what the whole solar outburst might do. "The Space Weather Forecast predicts storm conditions to continue for the next 24-48 hours. [There are] possible power outages as the coronal mass ejections interact with our magnetic sphere," explained Rogers.

Rogers breaks down what coronal mass ejections are. "A coronal mass ejection is material that has mass and electro-magnetic charge. When that material interacts with out upper atmosphere. It will produce a discharge similar to a static discharge much like the spark you feel when you touch a doorknob except its in the atmosphere. The colors of the auroras are related to the chemical ions that compose the coronal mass ejections," clarifies Rogers.

Scientists say that when the sun flare reaches the earth, it will make a rapid global alternation in the magnetic field, which may lead to cell phones outages and according to Rogers "northern lights or auroras borealis may be seen in the skies above Blair."

Information compiled from the Washington Post, NASA.gov, and Spaceweather.com



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