A shock wave hit Earth’s magnetic field on Sunday night, cracking the magnetosphere, which protects the planet from radiation.
Earth’s magnetic field, also called the geomagnetic field, extends from the interior of the earth thousands of miles into space. Electric currents, resulting from convection currents stimulated by molten iron and nickel in Earth’s outer core, create the magnetic field. The magnetism from the magnetic field can affect global communication and weather patterns.
“The shock wave may have been a CME emitted last week by sunspot AR3165 during its hyperactive flurry of solar flares,” SpaceWeather.com noted.
CME WATCH – 2022.12.19: A series of spectacular CMEs off the west limb. The question is though are any of them well placed to send a geomagnetic storm towards Earth? WE'll have to wait for the heliospheric models to see the probability forecast. pic.twitter.com/40D2DdGJ17
— Keith Strong (@drkstrong) December 20, 2022
The shock waves are often associated with solar storms. According to Live Science, the largest solar storm recorded occurred in 1859. The storm, called the Carrington Event, is believed to have released energy equivalent to 10 billion 1-megaton atomic bombs, wrecking telegraph systems around the world.
M-class solar flares hit the Earth last week. Solar flares move at the speed of light, hitting Earth within eight minutes after shooting out from the sun. X-class flares are the most powerful while M-class flares are the next most powerful.
The sun is currently heading into the most active phase of the 11-year solar cycle with the peak predicted to occur in 2025. After the solar flares last week, solar physicist Keith Strong warned, “THREE MORE M FLARES: An M6, M3 and M2 all from AR3165.That makes 8 M flares so far today. They seem to be getting bigger, is an X flare in the offing? Stay tuned.”
THREE MORE M FLARES: An M6, M3 and M2 all from AR3165. That makes 8 M flares so far today. They seem to be getting bigger, is an X flare in the offing? Stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/pjpbRhfTYo
— Keith Strong (@drkstrong) December 14, 2022
To visualize Earth’s magnetic field, one could imagine a bar magnet within the planet aligned with the axis of the Earth. Magnetic poles are located where the magnetic lines of attraction enter Earth. The magnetic north pole is located on Ellesmere Island in Northern Canada.
A planet can generate its magnetic field if it rotates fast enough, possesses a fluid medium that can conduct electricity, and has a core with an energy source that creates convection currents, National Geographic noted.