Friday, 22 September, 2017

NASA catches two significant solar flares

Biggest flare in two decades Incoming radiation stormsNASA SDO
Garry Little | 08 September, 2017, 00:42

It was believed to be the largest solar flare in the current solar cycle - or the past 11 years.

The two flares occurred Wednesday morning at 5:10am and 8:02am EDT.

Both events were X-Class solar flares, the most severe classification, and one of them was the most powerful since 2005, Engadget reported.

Amidst the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, we should be ready to face another storm, this time from the Sun as it exudes huge amount of charged particles towards Earth. The Solar Dynamic Observatory captured images of both massive solar flares.

Real-time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events data provider SPACE WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER (SWPC), NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION observed low-frequency communication, a wide area of blackouts and loss of contact with High-frequency radios for nearly an hour Yesterday. If they become too entangled, the stored energy is released in the form of a solar flare.

The size of the second flare is somewhat usual, according to Smithsonian.com, since the sun is now at solar minimum, or the period of lowest activity during its 11-year cycle. An X20 flare was recorded in April of 2001.

The most powerful flares observed on the Sun, emit into the environment tremendous energy.

The flares knocked out high-frequency radios, causing a "wide area of blackouts (and) loss of contact for up to an hour over (the) sunlit side of the Earth", the SWPC said. These particles can zoom toward Earth at a few million miles an hour, hit our atmosphere, and create aurorae, or glittering curtains of light commonly known as the Northern Lights.

The Sun may not be done yet, either - the large group of sunspots, which is visible through a protective solar filter (including those solar eclipse glasses you may still have lying around), has already sent out other, weaker M-class flares.

NASA also notes that the radio blackout from the flare has passed. They could still be responsible for additional flares in the coming days.

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