Previously hidden sunspot unleashes colossal X-class flare
A newly emerged sunspot makes its presence known and triggers a powerful X-class solar flare that caused shortwave radio blackouts in the South Pacific.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a huge solar flare on Thursday (January 5) at 7:45 pm EST (0045 GMT on January 6). The eruption shot out a red-hot plasma dome rising above the sunspot AR3182 for more than an hour, according to space weather. com (opens in new tab). Because the sunDue to its rotation, the vibrant sunspot will soon be facing Earth and could continue its explosive activity for days to come.
Solar flares are classified into letter groups by size, with X class being the most powerful. Within each class, numbers from 1 to 10 (and beyond for X-class flares) indicate the relative strength of a flare. The recent flare clocked in at X1.2, a relatively weak example of the most powerful class.
AR3182 is also linked to it the violent outburst on Tuesday (January 3) that a coronal mass ejection (CME), a giant cloud of magnetized plasma, blasting into space. The sunspot was hidden on the far side of the sun at the time, so the eruption posed no danger to it Soil.
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Solar flares are caused when magnetic energy builds up in the solar atmosphere and is released in an intense burst of electromagnetic radiation. More powerful M-class and X-class flares can cause mild to extensive radio blackouts on the side of Earth facing the sun at the time of the flare.
This is exactly what happened when the recent X1.2-class solar flare sent a strong pulse of X-rays and extreme ultraviolet radiation toward Earth. Travel at the speed of lightthe radiation reached Earth in just over eight minutes and ionized the top layer of the Earth’s atmosphere – the thermosphere – which caused a shortwave radio blackout in the South Pacific.
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According to Spaceweather.com, no CME has been observed to emerge from the area after the massive eruption so far.
Solar activity increases as part of solar cycle 25, which scientists predict will peak in 2025. To find out if there is a solar flare today and to stay updated on the latest space again findings, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Forecast Center (opens in new tab) to see the latest solar X-ray data from the agency’s GOES weather satellites towering over the eastern and western U.S.
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