Scientists Say A Huge ‘Cannibal’ Geomagnetic Storm Will Slam Into Earth


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

A “cannibal” coronal mass ejection will slam into Earth as a strong geomagnetic storm Thursday, scientists say.

Scientists first spotted the “dark plasma explosion” on Sunday when it burst forth from the sun’s surface, reaching a speed of around 1.3 million miles per hour, according to LiveScience. The explosion ripped through the sun’s atmosphere, creating a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is essentially a massive jet of solar material, SpaceWeather reported.

Another CME was spotted Monday after the collapse of a huge magnetic filament, or electrified gas, LiveScience reported. Two eruptions like this can combine to form the cannibal CME, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasted, according to another SpaceWeather report.

Thursday’s forecasted cannibal CME will arrive on Earth as a potentially powerful G3 geomagnetic storm, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. Geomagnetic storms rank from G1 – G5, and occur when planets with strong magnetic fields, like Earth, absorb the superfast solar debris from CMEs, LiveScience noted.

A G3 storm can bring the glittering greens and yellows of the aurora as far south as Oregon and Illinois, but also cause intermittent problems for satellite navigation, the outlet noted. (RELATED: Scientists Stunned By What They’re Seeing In New Images Of Deep Space)

Geomagnetic storms can also increase the drag felt on low-Earth orbit satellites because of the increased density of atmospheric gases, causing satellites to lose altitude, according to Nature. These storms can require some types of power systems to adjust for voltage corrections, LiveScience continued. In the most extreme cases, geomagnetic storms have the potential to cripple internet globally, the outlet noted in another report.