This spectacular event can be observed closely thanks to Solar Orbiter, which was passing by at that precise moment.
On September 5, astronomers surprised the Sun in full coronal mass ejection (CME). An observation that, in normal times, is not unusual, knowing that these events multiply as the star approaches its peak of activity, predicted in 2025. But this event was nevertheless remarkable for many reasons, and researchers have they are already rubbing their hands.
EMFs are plasma bubbles that are catapulted at high speed by solar flares. If they are directed towards the Earth, they can have very concrete consequences that directly depend on their intensity.
The weakest will have no measurable consequences. The most powerful, on the other hand, could cause unprecedented chaos on Earth by instantly destroying most systems that run on electricity.
And it so happens that this CME was absolutely gigantic. ” I can confidently say that the September 6 event was one of the biggest (if not THE largest particle storm) that we have observed since the launch of the Solar Orbiter in 2020 “Explains George Ho, a specialist in heliophysics interviewed by SpaceWeather.
It was so intense that it emerged in a form called ” in full halo “. CMEs generally travel in a specific direction. But in this case, the astronomers could observe that in addition to the main CME, the shock of the Sun also ejected a wave of superheated gas all around the star.
Solar Orbiter was in the right place at the right time
Fortunately for us, the Earth was not in the line of fire; the main expulsion has even disappeared on the other side of the sun, exactly in front of our planet. Good news for the electricity grid… but also for researchers who have benefited from a happy combination of circumstances.
Indeed, if the Blue Planet has escaped this ECM, this is not the case with Venus; the hottest planet in the solar system was passing by and was hit head-on. However, it turns out that the Solar Orbiter was also stopping in the region at this very moment; it had just completed an orbital maneuver near Venus to adjust its trajectory with respect to the Sun.
This probe dedicated to the exploration of our star, jointly operated by ESA and NASA, was therefore in the front row; could observe this gigantic CME on the other side of our star, which is by definition extremely difficult.
SOLAR DISCO: AR3088 is staying alive, spreading light and matter on its journey around the Sun. It is still providing an extraordinary spectacle even outside our point of view. Here’s a look at the region in 2.5 days that ended with its big M2 blast headed away from us. SDO 171/193/131 🧐🙀🤩😆👋 pic.twitter.com/lXGiUQC3Os
– Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) August 31, 2022
A taste of the future whims of the sun
NASA heliophysicist Dr. Alex Young shared the extraordinary images collected by the spacecraft. We see a gigantic solar protuberance, this structure in the form of a ring formed of plasma channeled by intense perturbations of the magnetic field. It is difficult to appreciate the incredible size of these images; these graceful eddies measure several thousand kilometers and are much larger than our planet itself.
For the researchers, however, it was a real boon. Thanks to the presence of the Solar Orbiter, they have been able to collect a large amount of data that already promises to deepen the knowledge of these eminently complex phenomena. ” This is an event like no other “, Rejoices George Ho. ” Many scientific articles will study it for years to come. “, He assures.
And this is probably just the beginning; remember that the Sun will reach the peak of its 11-year business cycle in 2025. There is therefore a good chance that at that point he will launch more and more spectacular anger. Heliophysicists can then pop popcorn… but we will also have to knock on wood so that our star doesn’t send us a huge ECM, with all the catastrophic consequences that would entail (see our article).
that the star of absolutely phenomenal proportions