The strongest solar flare in years erupted from the sun on Wednesday.
The violent salvo of particles is said to have caused power outages in Australia, the western Pacific and eastern Asia.
According to astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips, it’s one of 19 flares that have emanated from an unusually active sunspot in the past few days.
writing on his website space-weather.comwhich tracks the Sun’s activity, he predicted more flares this week.
“The salvo will likely continue as the colossal sunspot complex AR2993-94 turns toward Earth in the coming days,” said Dr. Phillips.
The rush of activity could trigger demonstrations of the northern lights when solar radiation hits the earth’s atmosphere.
However, it’s unlikely we’ll see another flare as intense as Wednesday’s X-class explosion.
Images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory show that the X2.2 flare erupted at 4:57 a.m. UK time (11:57 p.m. EST on Tuesday).
Luckily it was fired from the other side of the sun and posed no threat to Earth as it burned in a different direction.
according to dr Phillips, however, the flare’s radiation caused a brief radio blackout over Southeast Asia and Australia.
“Sailors and amateur radio operators in the area may have noticed loss of radio contact at frequencies below 30 MHz for up to an hour,” he wrote.
It could have been a lot worse. Had the flare hit our planet directly, it could have knocked out power grids and satellites.
Solar flares are huge ejections of hot material called plasma from the Sun’s outer layer.
They can affect radio communications, power grids, and navigational signals, and pose a risk to spacecraft and astronauts.
Torches are ordered by letter, with the largest marked as “X Class”. The smallest torches are “A Class”.
The number after the letter gives more information about the strength of an eruption.
An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, and so on.
As X2.2, Tuesday’s flare is the most powerful detected during this solar cycle, a period that began in 2019 and spans 11 years.
There is a possibility that a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a slower salvo of particles – will follow shortly.
CMEs take longer to reach Earth than flares and could produce Northern Lights should one occur.
Flares and CMEs can cause the appearance of colorful auroras by energizing particles in our planet’s atmosphere
However, scientists are still unsure whether Earth would be in the path of CMEs after Wednesday’s eruption.
The sun is currently at the beginning of a new 11-year solar cycle, during which flares and flares usually become more intense and extreme.
These events are expected to peak around 2025, and there is hope that NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft will observe them all as it aims to fly within 26 million miles of the Sun.
In the past, major solar flares wreaked havoc on our planet.
In 1989, a powerful solar flare shot down so many electrically charged particles that the Canadian province of Quebec was without electricity for nine hours.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8684641/sun-solar-flare-nasa-radio-blackouts-northern-lights/ Sun hurls ‘strongest solar flare’ with rare X2.2 rating as Nasa warns of radio blackouts and stunning Northern Lights