NASA reveals SCARY truth behind Cannibal CME: The worst solar storm offender for Earth
In just a few hours, the Earth is expected to witness a G1-class geomagnetic storm. This minor storm will be triggered by a coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud which is going to deliver glancing blows to the Earth. The storm is not expected to be intense. And one of the reasons behind that is the CME cloud is not a cannibal CME. This particular subtype of CME is considered one of the most dangerous solar phenomena when it comes to triggering solar storms. Recently, the NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) detected such a CME, which was luckily moving away from the Earth. So, what makes them so scary and why are they associated with the worst solar storms on our planet? Find out below.
As per a report by SpaceWeather.com, “Cannibal CMEs are great at sparking geomagnetic storms and auroras. When two CMEs merge, the compression creates shock waves and enhanced magnetic fields that can poke holes in Earth’s magnetosphere–opening the door to strong storms. Some of the biggest geomagnetic storms in recorded history were probably caused by cannibal CMEs”.
Cannibal CMEs can trigger devastating solar storms
In a detailed sequence of events, NASA has explained exactly how a cannibal CME works. Whenever there are multiple clouds of CME being released from the same location, the cloud coming out later can absorb the one in the front as long as it is brighter and faster than it. As it absorbs the fainter CME, it accumulates the magnetic charge and intensifies further. This is known as a cannibal CME.
Since cannibal CME devours multiple clouds, their overall intensity is extremely high. When they finally strike the Earth, the combined strength of the CME particles easily breaks open the Earth’s magnetic field and causes powerful solar storms. It is believed that the solar storm that took place on April 23 was also caused by a cannibal CME.
Such storms can do more damage than normal. They can damage small satellites, impact mobile networks, GPS, and even pose a threat to ground-based electronics and power grids by increasing the magnetic potential by huge amounts.
How NASA SOHO monitors the Sun
NASA’s SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) is a satellite that was launched on December 2, 1995. It is a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the sun, its atmosphere, and its effects on the solar system. Equipped with 12 scientific instruments, such as Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT), Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI), LASCO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) and others, SOHO captures images of the sun’s corona, measures the velocity and magnetic fields of the sun’s surface, and observes the faint corona around the sun.