The Magnetic Storm of Halloween 2003

Credit: solen.info

The storm was so strong that the change in magnetic direction could be easily measured on a compass, as this 2013 article explains.

Ghosts and goblins, candle-lit jack o’lanterns and dark haunted houses, ominous screeching and maniacal laughter – these are some of the frightening fantasies we associate with Halloween.

But ten years ago during the Halloween of 2003, while children in costumes paraded door-to-door for treats, the Sun was playing its own tricks with planet Earth, says Directions Magazine.

The consequence: a solar-terrestrial nightmare became a scary reality.

The Halloween Storm

In mid-October 2003, a bundle of concentrated magnetic energy emerged from the Sun’s interior, forming a large sunspot, a site of seething activity. Enormous solar flares soon followed. Then, on October 28, the sunspot abruptly ejected a concentrated mass of electrically conducting solar wind, flinging it out into interplanetary space toward the Earth. Less than a day later, on October 29, a geomagnetic storm was initiated as the solar wind disrupted the Earth’s protective magnetosphere.

Over the next three days, the “Halloween magnetic storm” would evolve and grow to become one of the largest such storms in half a century.

Magnetic storms are global phenomena, and their effects can be easily seen around the world. During the Halloween storm, for example, magnetic direction in Alaska quickly changed by more than 20 degrees. In other words, the storm was so large that it could be measured with a simple compass.

The Halloween magnetic storm also produced spectacular aurora, with green phantom “northern lights” seen as far south as Texas and Florida.

The Impacts of this Storm

The USGS network of magnetic observatories monitored activity from the Halloween storm in collaboration with international partners. The storm played tricks on technological systems around the world, which scientists continue to analyze even today.

Continued here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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October 31, 2018 at 05:12AM

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