Solar storm today: Where will the geomagnetic storm hit? | Science | News

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A minor G1 geomagnetic storm watch is in effect today for the entire planet, scientists have warned.

The storm watch came into effect on Tuesday night, after astronomers noticed a rip in the surface of the sun. 

The “canyon-like” hole was picked up on ’s Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) satellites.

On Wednesday March 14 the US space agency said the sun was showing a “coronal hole” ejecting high-speed plasma towards Earth. 

Coronal holes appear on the sun’s surface whenever the star’s magnetic field opens up to relate intense charged particles and solar winds.

Scientists now expect the storm to create stunning aurora effects in the northern hemisphere, but has also warned of potential power outages. 

The US Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) said a storm of this scale can lead to weak power grid fluctuations, minor impact on satellite operations and even disorientate migratory animals.

The SWPC said: “A G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm watch remains in effect for 15 March, 2018 UTC as the influence from enhanced solar wind parameters persists.

“Keep checking our SWPC webpage for the latest forecasts, warnings, and alerts.”

The latest SWPC storm maps shows the most likely extent of the aurora effect tonight.

The aurora path will trail through the northernmost parts of Scotland, parts of the US and South Canada and through large swathes of Siberia.

Between 12.57pm and 1.35pm GMT there is a relatively low chance of Northern Lights developing in polar regions and northern Canada.

Northern Lights phenomena occur during solar storms because charged particles from the sun excite oxygen and nitrogen particles in the atmosphere. 

BBC weatherman Matt Taylor explained: “The sun is of course not a solid object – fluctuations on that, solar flares off that, so that sends highly charged particles right through the atmosphere towards us.

“As it reaches out atmosphere it interacts with the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, and that is what causes the colours.

“It get’s them excited basically, causes a little bit of a tickle and they shine different colours of light – the greens and yellows when it’s oxygen and the reds and purples when it’s nitrogen.”

This stellar interplay of particles paints the sky in various hues of red, green, yellow, blue and purple depending on the air’s composition. 

Excited oxygen particles typically glow green while nitrogen typically shifts towards red and violet. 

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