A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather.
A geomagnetic storm is caused by a solar wind shock wave and/or cloud of magnetic field which interacts with the Earth's magnetic field.
The increase in the solar wind pressure initially compresses the magnetosphere and the solar wind magnetic field will interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and transfer an increased amount of energy into the magnetosphere.
Both interactions cause an increase in movement of plasma through the magnetosphere (driven by increased electric fields inside the magnetosphere) and an increase in electric current in the magnetosphere and ionosphere.
During the main phase of a geomagnetic storm, electric current in the magnetosphere create magnetic force which pushes out the boundary between the magnetosphere and the solar wind.
The disturbance in the interplanetary medium which drives the geomagnetic storm may be due to a solar coronal mass ejection (CME) or a high speed stream (co-rotating interaction region or CIR) of the solar wind originating from a region of weak magnetic field on the Sun’s surface.
The frequency of geomagnetic storms increases and decreases with the sunspot cycle. CME driven storms are more common during the maximum of the solar cycle and CIR driven storms are more common during the minimum of the solar cycle.
A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up to 6 × 1025 joules of energy (about a sixth of the total energy output of the Sun each second) or 160,000,000,000 megatons of TNT equivalent, over 25,000 times more energy released from the impact of Comet_Shoemaker–Levy_9
The flare ejects clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms through the corona into space. These clouds typically reach Earth a day or two after the event.
The term is also used to refer to similar phenomena in other stars, where the term stellar flare applies.
Solar flares affect all layers of the solar atmosphere (photosphere, chromosphere, and corona), when the medium plasma is heated to tens of millions of kelvins and electrons, protons, and heavier ions are accelerated to near the speed of light.
They produce radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum at all wavelengths, from radio waves to gamma rays, although most of the energy goes to frequencies outside the visual range and for this reason the majority of the flares are not visible to the naked eye and must be observed with special instruments.
Flares occur in active regions around sunspots, where intense magnetic fields penetrate the photosphere to link the corona to the solar interior.
Flares are powered by the sudden (timescales of minutes to tens of minutes) release of magnetic energy stored in the corona.
The same energy releases may produce coronal mass ejections (CME), although the relation between CMEs and flares is still not well established.
X-rays and UV radiation emitted by solar flares can affect Earth's ionosphere and disrupt long-range radio communications. Direct radio emission at decimetric wavelengths may disturb operation of radars and other devices operating at these frequencies.
Solar flares were first observed on the Sun by Richard Christopher Carrington and independently by Richard Hodgson in 1859 as localized visible brightenings of small areas within a sunspot group. Stellar flares have also been observed on a variety of other stars.
The frequency of occurrence of solar flares varies, from several per day when the Sun is particularly "active" to less than one every week when the Sun is "quiet", following the 11-year cycle (the solar cycle). Large flares are less frequent than smaller ones.
The most powerful flare ever observed was the first one to be observed, on September 1, 1859, and was reported by British astronomer Richard Carrington and independently by an observer named Richard Hodgson. The event is named the Solar storm of 1859, or the "Carrington event". The flare was visible to a naked-eye (in white light), and produced stunning auroras down to tropical latitudes such as Cuba or Hawaii, and set telegraph systems on fire.
Solar storms can cause the following:
Radiation injuries to astronauts
Interfere with short-wave radio communication
Can heat the outer atmosphere and increase the drag on low orbiting satellites
Power outages for extended periods of time.
Geomagnetically induced currents in pipelines
May also cause:
Societal breakdowns, power outage, transportation issues, looting, and riots
After the solar storm you will be faced with the rule of 3's basic survival skills
Prepare for power outages
Protect important electronics with a faraday cage