Rare phenomenon: four simultaneous solar flares can cause a magnetic storm

The Sun is a gigantic ball of gas, without which life on Earth would be impossible. Complex processes constantly occur inside it, caused by its magnetic fields. Solar activity changes every 11 years. During solar minimum, the star is relatively quiet, but during solar maximum, flares constantly occur on its surface. Recently, researchers from the NASA aerospace agency witnessed a very rare phenomenon called asympathetic solar flareThis complex term is usually understood as the simultaneous occurrence of several flares in different parts of the Sun. On the afternoon of April 23, astronomers recorded four simultaneous flares. The solar material they eject can reach the Earth in a few days and cause consequences.

Rare phenomenon: four simultaneous solar flares can cause a magnetic storm. At the end of April 2024, the Sun experienced a sympathetic solar flare. Image source: IFL Science. Photo.

At the end of April 2024, a sympathetic solar flare occurred on the Sun. Image source: IFL Science

Solar flares in April 2024

According to Space Weather, a series of explosions on the Sun occurred in several parts of the Sun. There was a difference of several minutes between the four outbreaks, but scientists still believe that they occurred simultaneously. Three flares occurred in sunspots, and one in a solar filament.

Sunspotsare areas on the Sun that are much darker than the rest of the star. They occur when magnetic fields move outward—these regions are much cooler than the rest of the star, which is why they appear dark. Some sunspots are small and visible to scientists only through special optics, but there are also those whose size is comparable to the size of large planets.

Solar flares in April 2024. Dark spots on the Sun. Photo source: Langkawi National Observatory, MYSA/MOSTI. Photo.

Dark spots on the Sun. Photo source: Langkawi National Observatory, MYSA/MOSTI

Threads of the Sunare long structures of gases that rise above the surface of a star. They are capable of “flying out” for many thousands of kilometers, so in photographs of the Sun they are visible as bright arc-shaped formations. Some solar filaments exist for several weeks, after which they either dissolve or eject solar particles into space.

Solar flares in April 2024. Solar filament. Image source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo.

Solar filament. Image source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Solar Flares– this is a consequence of the voltage arising in its magnetic field. When the voltage becomes very high, the magnetic field “explodes”, releasing a large amount of energy into space.

It goes without saying that we have described all the processes in the simplest possible terms. In fact, there is a lot going on inside the Sun, and it will take a lot of time to explain all the nuances.

The most common myths about the Sun:what should you believe?

Consequences of geomagnetic storms

Many scientists are inclined to believe that as a result of these solar flares, geomagnetic storms will arise on Earth at the end of April 2024. When explosions occur on the star closest to us, bunches of electrons and protons fly into outer space.

Our planet Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field (magnetosphere), which protects us from the solar wind. If electrons and protons reach the Earth, the magnetosphere begins to oscillate and greatly influence everything that happens on the surface of the planet.

Consequences of geomagnetic storms. Image of the influence of solar flares on the Earth. Image source: iz.ru. Photo.

Image of the impact of solar flares on Earth. Image source: iz.ru

During geomagnetic storms, we can observe northern lights in the sky. During particularly strong disturbances, this beautiful phenomenon is visible even over Moscow and many other Russian cities. For example, in central Russia, the northern lights were visible several times in 2023.

During magnetic storms, problems with electronics may occur. For example, satellite systems like GPS often do not work well on such days. During particularly strong disturbances, problems with light may arise.

Magnetic storms can lead to illness in sensitive people. For example, men and women may complain of headaches, insomnia, stress, anxiety and other unpleasant symptoms.

Most likely, magnetic storms on Earth will occur on April 25 and 26. It is possible that they will last longer, because the Sun is very active now.

If you want to learn as much as possible about solar storms, read our material about why they occur and why they are dangerous.

Disaster after solar flares

Scientists believe that the peak of solar activity will not arrive until 2025, so there may be a lot of news about magnetic storms and record-breaking powerful flares. According to other data, the solar cycle is now proceeding faster than usual, and the maximum will occur at the end of 2024.

Disaster after solar flares. Graph of solar cycles. Image source: meteoadriatic.net. Photo.

Solar cycles chart. Image source: meteoadriatic.net

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Based on this, humanity should be prepared for serious problems with technology. Along with technology and electricity, the Internet may also fail, after which billions of people around the world will be left without communication.