NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has recently observed that a region in the magnetic field of the sun has a few ‘holes’. After gathering the data, the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center warned the public that Tuesday and Wednesday there would be a solar storm that also brings magnificent northern lights.
NASA stated last week on their Solar Dynamics Observatory page:
“For much of this week the sun featured three substantial coronal holes. Coronal holes appear as large dark areas which are identified with arrows in the still image. This wind, if it interacts with Earth’s magnetosphere, can cause aurora to appear near the poles. They are not at all uncommon.”
Watching the Skies for Aurora
So, whoever was close to the northern part of the US, they could see aurora: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, northern Maine, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota.
When solar storms are more powerful, they can damage transformers on power grids, disrupt satellites, cell phones, GPS systems or devices that are more sensitive, said NASA.
The space weather center stated that the coronal holes in the sun’s magnetic field can develop anytime and anywhere on the sun, with a more common appearance in the years around solar minimum. However, the coronal holes are closely analyzed by the forecasters, who keep a close eye on the geomagnetic activity to know in advance about storming of G1 or higher.
Beaching of Mammals and Space Weather
There have been scientists that blamed the geomagnetic storms for the massive mammal beachings as it interfered with their own ‘guiding systems’. But NASA didn’t find a connection between these events. However, they have started looking into this phenomenon with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
In a NASA statement in December 2017, Goddard space weather scientist Antti Pulkkinen said the following:
“We’ve learned so far there is no smoking gun indicating space weather is the primary driver. But there is a sense that geomagnetic conditions may be part of a cocktail of contributing factors.”