UNITED STATES: The Earth’s magnetic field experienced a crack on Thursday that persisted for about 14 hours. The opening allowed strong solar winds to pass through, resulting in a geomagnetic storm and some quite spectacular aurora.
A co-rotating interaction region (CIR) from the Sun, an uncommon occurrence, caused the crack in the magnet field. When fast and slow-moving solar wind streams interact, large-scale plasma structures called CIRs are created in the heliosphere’s low and mid-latitude regions, which surround the Sun and contain its magnetic field and solar winds.
Like coronal mass ejections (CMEs), coronal incandescence regions (CIRs) are hurled from the Sun towards Earth. They can contain shockwaves and compressed magnetic fields that lead to turbulent space weather, which typically manifests as beautiful aurorae.
This one made contact with Earth’s magnetic field early on July 7 and generated a persistent G1-class geomagnetic storm. According to some sources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts believe a CME was embedded in the solar wind before the CIR.
There is no need to be alarmed; magnetic field breaks are common. We are shielded from solar storms that the Sun spews forth by the magnetic field. Though it was believed that they opened and closed rather rapidly, we now know they can remain open for several hours.
According to Harald Frey, the study’s principal author, “We’ve found that our magnetic barrier is draughty, like a house with a window left open in a storm.”
“The couch is damaged, but the home largely avoids the storm. Similar to how our magnetic shield deflects most of the energy from space storms, it occasionally allows enough energy to interfere with electrical networks, radio communications, and satellites.”
This time, it doesn’t appear like there have been any radio blackouts or power disruptions, but we have been blessed with some stunning northern lights in both Canada and the US.
The Sun is already unusually active relatively early as it approaches the solar cycle’s most active time (July 2025). The likelihood of seeing an aurora is now relatively strong, but over the following three years, it will only get better and better.