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What causes the mysterious stealthy solar storms that come without warming? Scientists unravel the secret

The Massive Solar Storms Often Come With Certain Kind Of Warning Such As A Bright Flash, A Burst Of Heat Or A Flurry Of Particles. However, Sometimes, Some Mysterious Kinds Of Solar Storms Leave Scientists Baffled. Coming Out Of Nowhere, Such Solar Storms Are Called ‘stealth CMEs’.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Bindiya Bhatt | Updated on: 09 May 2017, 02:55:44 PM
Scientists decode the secret behind stealthy solar storms (Pic: NASA)

New Delhi:

The largest object in our solar system, which also includes the nine planets, is the Sun, which keeps spewing solar material into the space. According to scientists, the massive clouds erupting from the Sun are the grandest such events. These massive clouds are known as mass ejections, or CMEs.

The massive solar storms often come with certain kind of warning such as a bright flash, a burst of heat or a flurry of particles. However, sometimes, some mysterious kinds of solar storms leave scientists baffled. Coming out of nowhere, such solar storms are called ‘stealth CMEs’.

Using the data from NASA’s STERIO and SOHO missions, researchers developed a model of these solar storms to carry out the study. They discovered how the processes in the magnetic field of the Sun cause tension and build over time. A twisted ‘bubble’ gets created in the process but eventually snaps off.

The strength and movement of magnetic fields in the atmosphere of the Sun was simulated by a team of scientists at the Space Sciences Laboratory at University of California, Berkeley. They wanted to understand what causes the strange phenomena known as ‘stealth CMEs.’

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) typically erupt from the sun travelling up to 1800 miles per second, while the CMEs move slowly at just 250-435 miles per second. The CMEs come out of nowhere without any warning. The CMEs can cause minor to moderate disturbances to the magnetic field of the Earth.

The differential rotation is a phenomenon in which different points of the sun rotate at different speeds and scientists accounted for this in the simulation. They found that this causes Sun’s magnetic fields to stretch and spread at different rates.

This increases the tension in the magnetic fields over time, twisting them and creating a ‘strained coil of energy,’ NASA said. The coil suddenly expands and pinches off into space after two weeks.

The new study is one of the breakthroughs in recent efforts to discover the mechanisms behind the activity of the Sun, helping in improving the understanding of scientists of space weather and its effect on Earth.

When powerful solar storms occur they send high-energy particles into space. This causes the areas above the poles to gain excessive electrical charge when they hit the upper atmosphere of the Earth.

A recent study has now found that these storms can also create an opposite effect, draining certain regions until they are nearly depleted of electrically charged particles.

Because of this strange phenomenon gives birth to patches where electrons are ‘almost vacuumed out.’ According to researchers, the new breakthrough could result in improved radio communication and navigation systems in the Arctic.

The study was done by researchers from Denmark, the US, and Canada, who analysed a solar storm that hit our planet Earth on February 19, 2014.

The ionosphere in all of Earth’s northern latitudes was affected by this storm, while satellites observatories around the world documented it.

ALSO READ | Soil on the Moon vaporises and melts due to sparks formed by solar storms, reveals NASA

The coronal mass ejections in 2014 erupted from two powerful CMEs that were directed toward Earth and formed patches of excessive electrons in the upper atmosphere over northern Greenland.

Patches were also found roughly 300-600 miles wide just to the south of these areas where the electrons had been drained. “We don’t know exactly what causes the depletion,” said Attila Komjathy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

ALSO READ | Did life on Earth originate from solar storms on young Sun?

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First Published : 09 May 2017, 01:24:00 PM