KEY POINTS

  • A stream of solar winds are currently hitting Earth
  • Earth's magnetosphere is cracking due to the solar winds
  • Auroras are expected to appear due to the current solar event

A space weather forecasting site reported that Earth is currently getting hit by a stream of solar winds. According to the site, the nature of the solar winds is causing small cracks to appear in the planet’s magnetic field.

The report about the current solar wind forecast was made by SpaceWeather.com. It is not yet clear how long the cosmic storm happening outside Earth will last.

As indicated in the data collected by the site, the high-energy solar winds emitted by the Sun are currently hitting Earth at speeds of about 414 kilometers per second. Fortunately, Earth is protected by the magnetosphere, which is a bubble formed by the planet’s magnetic field.

As the solar winds from the Sun hit the magnetosphere, the collision occurs in a region known as the magnetopause. Most of the time, the magnetosphere is able to keep the solar winds out and prevent them from affecting Earth.

However, in some cases, solar winds can cancel out portions of the magnetosphere, causing cracks in the magnetic field to form. This occurs when the Sun’s magnetic field points south, which is a condition referred to by scientists as southward Bz or BsubZ.

“Earth's magnetic field points north at the magnetopause. If the Sun's magnetic field points south -- a condition scientists call 'southward Bz' -- then the Sun's magnetic field can partially cancel Earth's magnetic field at the point of contact,” SpaceWeather.com explained.

Cracks in the magnetosphere mean that solar winds could penetrate through Earth’s magnetic field and affect the planet. Fortunately, the solar winds that are currently battering the planet are not that powerful.

Unlike major solar events that can cause electrical disruptions and power outages, the stream of solar winds hitting the magnetosphere will most likely only affect the atmosphere. As the solar winds interact with Earth’s atmosphere, they could cause natural light displays known as auroras to form over affected regions.

“The solar wind blowing around Earth is unsettled with periods of negative BsubZ opening small cracks in Earth's magnetic field,” SpaceWeather.com stated. “Gaseous material flowing through the cracks could spark Arctic auroras.”