A full corona solar storm from a tsunami on the surface of the sun heading to Earth

A massive “full corona” solar storm is headed toward Earth, and is due to hit our atmosphere on July 23.

According to SpaceWeather.com, a solar tsunami explosion on July 21 sent a cloud of solar plasma and other solar particles in our direction, and when it hit Earth, it would cause geomagnetic storms.

This type of solar storm is known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), and it usually occurs in the sun’s most active regions where magnetic fields are especially strong.

When the twisted magnetic field lines on the Sun suddenly reshape themselves, the Sun emits huge plumes of plasma.

Stock image of a solar flare. A “full corona” solarium is set to hit Earth on July 23.
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Matter emitted from the Sun in the CME can contain billions of tons of particles from the Sun’s atmosphere, and also carry an embedded magnetic field: large, fast coronal mass ejections can travel at speeds of up to 4.5 million miles per hour.

CMEs are usually harmless to humans, as they are not directed to Earth most of the time.

However, the “full corona” CME that occurred on July 21 is expected to hit the Earth’s magnetic field. The coronal events are given their name because of the way they appear in images of the coronal vertebra, which appear to glow around the sun like a corona.

Coronal mass ejected “full corona” targets the Earth, with the entire circumference of the Sun appearing to glow.

According to NOAA data, the resulting geomagnetic storm in our magnetosphere is likely to be G1 to G2 (light to moderate), although there is little chance of the storm rising to become G3 (strong).

Solar storms range in strength from G1 to G5, with G5 being the strongest. While G1 storms are very common, more powerful storms are very rare.

“[G1 storms] It does not have any dangerous effects. G5 storms can have serious effects. But we haven’t had a G5 since October 2003,” said Mike Hapgood, principal space weather advisor at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, NEWSWEEK.

According to NOAA, the densest part of the CME storm cloud is scheduled to reach Earth around 4 a.m. UTC (12 p.m. ET) on July 23.

When the CME hits Earth’s atmosphere, it disturbs the magnetic field, and may lead to power grid fluctuations, interruptions to satellite operations, and changes in the behavior of migrating animals.

It also results from beautiful nighttime displays known as auroras, or northern/southern lights, which are caused by electrons from the solar wind accelerating along magnetic field lines toward Earth’s poles.

Here, they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, forcing them into a higher energy state, causing them to release their excess energy in the form of a bluish-green glow.

The stronger the geomagnetic storm, the more it happens from within, far from the poles.

According to SpaceWeather.com, if the next storm reaches G3 levels, “the aurora borealis could descend as far south as Illinois and Oregon.”

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