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strongest possible geomagnetic storm - writing a paper


dregmas

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Hey 😄,

I´m the new one in this forum ^^. 
I´ve been very interested in space weather since 2016. In the first years it was just a side interest, but since 2021 it has become kind of a keen passion. 

I was able to, at least, see Aurora here in Germany for two times. 

Although I am still a beginner when it comes to understanding the physics behind solar storms etc, I am trying to write a short “ scientific paper” (not for publishing ofcabout what the strongest possible geomagnetic storm could look like and what the consequences for the earth would be.  

Not to initiate some panic, I just want to give a realistic view on very, very unlikely events. 
I also want to do some research about the Geomagnetic reversal and its theoretical influence on the strength of geomagnetic storms. 

I found the following paper, which I still struggle to understand, but I think it really fits well to my work.  

Do you know what is meant bysaturation limit” (Dst = 2500nT)? 

What do you think?

Do you have some tips or recommendations for me (literature etc.)? 

I would very much appreciate your help 😊. 

cs :),

Marcus 

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I find it odd how these science articles only really talk about the issues in regards to electricity, GPS, et cetera without acknowledging the far, far bigger consequences. Not getting into that since I know it'll veer the thread off-course, so I'll just say I wanna be out when that happens.

But enough about that. I hope you do well in your research, Marcus. 🙂 Research being done in... well, any scientific field is always a good thing!

Edited by Bedreamon
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First of all,
Thank you for your answers!!

On 5/15/2022 at 2:18 AM, Vancanneyt Sander said:

Dst is the disturbance storm index, the stronger negative nanoTeslas, the stronger the geomagnetic storm. More info about this index and what it means can be found here: https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/stp/geomag/dst.html

Oh Yeah, I know what the Dst is but I am confused about the saturation limit. Why should there be a limit?

 

On 5/15/2022 at 8:43 AM, KW2P said:

Definitly helpful, thanks!
 

On 5/15/2022 at 8:58 AM, Bedreamon said:

I find it odd how these science articles only really talk about the issues in regards to electricity, GPS, et cetera without acknowledging the far, far bigger consequences. Not getting into that since I know it'll veer the thread off-course, so I'll just say I wanna be out when that happens.

But enough about that. I hope you do well in your research, Marcus. 🙂 Research being done in... well, any scientific field is always a good thing!


Oh yes, me too 😍. I will also write about these "positive consequences" ^^. 
Imagine seeing aurora at the equator on the northern AND southern horizon! xD

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Sam Warfel
This post was recognized by Sam Warfel!

Newbie was awarded the badge 'Great Support' and 40 points.

Hello dregmas,

Concerning the limit of -2500 nT for dst I have read that this is likely a theoretical figure.

Early research classified the Carrington storms as being around ~ -1700 nT but later investigations have them at around ~ -800 nT, others may have read lower estimates, of course the exact figure may never be known. To compare, the Halloween storms have been listed as -500 nT but I have read lower figures for those as well ~ -700 - 800 nT. It all depends on the modelling and the math. Most large solar storms have been studied. 

Further I have read of at least two things that come into play during a solar storm which determine how negative the dst becomes.

The ring current, which is an electric current carried by charged particles trapped in the Earth's magnetosphere (which overflow from the Van Allen belt)

The cross polar cap potential difference. Ionospheric electric potential in the polar region mostly generated through the interaction between the solar wind and the magnetosphere. It is this polar cap potential difference which results in ionospheric plasma flow by which (under extreme and unlikely conditions) may become saturated due to the overabundance of solar wind particles. It may be this that is the limiting aspect of dst.

During a solar storm the ring current expands, the effect of this is to suppress the Earth's magnetic field. The more negative the dst, the more the magnetic field is weakened allowing solar material to enter in. When the storm subsides the magnetic field bounces back again.

Research in the area of Sun - Earth interaction is ongoing, far from complete and not fully understood.

I have included some material I found interesting, I apologise that the links may not work, please copy and paste into your browser should you wish.

 

https://www.aer.com/science-research/space/space-weather/space-weather-index/#:~:text=Dst is a measure of,nT) indicate high geomagnetic activity.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-38918-8#:~:text=The Carrington event is the,Dst under −850 nT19.

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2003JA010286

Best wishes in your endeavours.

Newbie

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  • 2 months later...

Hello again,
im really sorry for the late reply.

I just want to thank you for your detailed answer. :)
That helped me a lot with my paper. 

Thanks!!
 

On 5/23/2022 at 3:49 AM, Newbie said:

Hello dregmas,

Concerning the limit of -2500 nT for dst I have read that this is likely a theoretical figure.

Early research classified the Carrington storms as being around ~ -1700 nT but later investigations have them at around ~ -800 nT, others may have read lower estimates, of course the exact figure may never be known. To compare, the Halloween storms have been listed as -500 nT but I have read lower figures for those as well ~ -700 - 800 nT. It all depends on the modelling and the math. Most large solar storms have been studied. 

Further I have read of at least two things that come into play during a solar storm which determine how negative the dst becomes.

The ring current, which is an electric current carried by charged particles trapped in the Earth's magnetosphere (which overflow from the Van Allen belt)

The cross polar cap potential difference. Ionospheric electric potential in the polar region mostly generated through the interaction between the solar wind and the magnetosphere. It is this polar cap potential difference which results in ionospheric plasma flow by which (under extreme and unlikely conditions) may become saturated due to the overabundance of solar wind particles. It may be this that is the limiting aspect of dst.

During a solar storm the ring current expands, the effect of this is to suppress the Earth's magnetic field. The more negative the dst, the more the magnetic field is weakened allowing solar material to enter in. When the storm subsides the magnetic field bounces back again.

Research in the area of Sun - Earth interaction is ongoing, far from complete and not fully understood.

I have included some material I found interesting, I apologise that the links may not work, please copy and paste into your browser should you wish.

 

https://www.aer.com/science-research/space/space-weather/space-weather-index/#:~:text=Dst is a measure of,nT) indicate high geomagnetic activity.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-38918-8#:~:text=The Carrington event is the,Dst under −850 nT19.

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2003JA010286

Best wishes in your endeavours.

Newbie


 

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Case in point: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

We still have a lot to learn about stars. We may find that many stars, including our own, have a regular cycle of larger flares than the usual space weather. Stars may even have a cyclical stellar ejection nova-like event in which they don’t go full nova, but instead shed material and then accumulate more again (dust, etc). What would you name a partial nova? A…mini-nova? A sorta-Nova? It’s likely that “Nova” events include a broad spectrum, essentially an infinite number in this vast universe.

 

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1 hour ago, dregmas said:

Hello again,
im really sorry for the late reply.

I just want to thank you for your detailed answer. :)
That helped me a lot with my paper. 

Thanks!!
 


 

Hello Dregmas, thanks for the feedback.

I'm glad that you found it useful.

Kind regards, 

Newbie 

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Without talking about other conditions, I've seen estimates for the maximum possible flare for Sol being around X1000, although that would be an extremely rare occurrence if it ever were to happen; it would likely have a frequency on the order of once every many tens or hundreds of thousands of years. In e.g. this paper there is mention of such an estimate:

Quote

Gopalswamy et al. (2010) estimated maximum flare energy to be of the order of 10^35 erg (flare of the ∼X1000 class) based on observed maximum magnetic field strength in a sunspot and largest AR size. Based on this flare energy estimation, Gopalswamy (2011) presented estimated maximum CME speed, associated with the largest class of flares, to be 7200 km s^(-1) assuming the CME mass to be of the order of 10^18 g.

In comparison, the Carrington Event had an estimated average speed of ~2.3 km/s, meaning that the CME associated with an X1000 as per the estimates above could reach Earth within 6 hours. Later in the paper, the maximal speed for an X1000 CME based on the scaling relationship they determine mathematically is estimated to be as much as 9.1 km/s, which would correspond to the CME reaching Earth in roughly just 4.5 hours.

Another avenue that's interesting to look at in this regard is records of rapid carbon-14 spikes in old trees, which reliably across trees demonstrate that such spikes have occurred in specific years, and these spikes are assumed to have occurred due to massive Solar events. In the same paper as above, immediately before the previously quoted excerpt, we read:

Quote

Evidence of a spike of the carbon-14 isotope between 774 and 775 is discovered from tree rings indicative of huge solar energetic particle events driven by solar superflares (Miyake et al. 2012).

Indeed, the Miyake cited there ended up as the namesake for that very 774–775 carbon-14 spike, as it is generally called the Miyake Event (also the Charlemagne Event). Considering how the Carrington Event didn't leave any noticeable such spike at all, one could make the assumption that this event was far stronger, although there could of course also be other factors at play. There is also an event that occurred in 7176 BCE that has been estimated as having been as powerful, or even more so, and this very recent paper actually finds that not only that event, but also an event in 5259 BCE, led to carbon-14 spikes of ~2%, which is more than the ~1.2% spike of the Miyake event, although their normalization adjustments for geomagnetic field strength leads them to conclude that the Miyake event was probably slightly stronger.

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4 minutes ago, Philalethes Bythos said:

I've seen estimates for the maximum possible flare for Sol being around X1000

To be honest, I don’t think that kind of power on the sun is possible. X100, yes is possible but X1000 seems impossible. But that is my guess and as you’ve said it’s a possibility that it can happen when the sun gets bigger and brighter. 

Edited by Solarflaretracker200
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27 minutes ago, Solarflaretracker200 said:

To be honest, I don’t think that kind of power on the sun is possible. X100, yes is possible but X1000 seems impossible. But that is my guess and as you’ve said it’s a possibility that it can happen when the sun gets bigger and brighter. 

Well, I suppose you should read Gopalswamy's cited work before making that judgment, at least if you're indeed basing it mostly on a gut feeling. Also, in this paper is mentioned two other estimates of the maximal flare size Sol would be capable of, one at X500 with confidence bounds from X200 to X1000, and the other at X1000. There are also a couple of cited estimates of the Miyake event in there at X230 and X285.

Edited by Philalethes Bythos
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9 hours ago, David Silver said:

Case in point: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

We still have a lot to learn about stars. We may find that many stars, including our own, have a regular cycle of larger flares than the usual space weather. Stars may even have a cyclical stellar ejection nova-like event in which they don’t go full nova, but instead shed material and then accumulate more again (dust, etc). What would you name a partial nova? A…mini-nova? A sorta-Nova? It’s likely that “Nova” events include a broad spectrum, essentially an infinite number in this vast universe.

 

There are stars called carbon stars which have shell helium flashes and can lose significant material. Carbon star - Wikipedia 

 

There are a couple of subtypes for Novas already. Nova - Wikipedia 

RN type Novas are recurring Novas in a 10–80-year cycle. So perhaps this subtype matches what you are referring to. 

 

6 hours ago, Philalethes Bythos said:

Also, in this paper is mentioned two other estimates of the maximal flare size Sol would be capable of, one at X500 with confidence bounds from X200 to X1000, and the other at X1000. There are also a couple of cited estimates of the Miyake event in there at X230 and X285.

The illustration from Japan on what the sky looked like was pretty cool. 

 

 

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OMG Miyake event would make someone like me schizo. I bet the aurora was amazing.

Quote

the surface mass ejection Betelgeuse experienced released more than 400 billion times as much mass as a typical coronal mass ejection from the sun.

What size flare is that exactly?

Edited by David Silver
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2 hours ago, Archmonoth said:

The illustration from Japan on what the sky looked like was pretty cool.

Yes, quite spectacular. It's always interesting to see pre-photographic depictions of such events, especially of something so rare. Although photography had just barely been invented at the time, this woodcut depicting the 1833 Leonid meteor shower is also quite fascinating:

image.thumb.jpeg.ddeec2f867e82cb4a4f44f5e5fea6811.jpeg

And here's another I found of the aforementioned aurora:

image.thumb.jpeg.e7b2435c14e18c7e0103cc60f38fd88a.jpeg

2 hours ago, David Silver said:

What size flare is that exactly?

Heh; well, if we make the most conservative estimate and say that a "typical coronal mass ejection" refers to the lowest rating of an A1, where an X1 would be 10,000 times as energetic as this, then it would correspond to an X40,000,000 in terms of sheer energy.

Edited by Philalethes Bythos
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