Sun Unleashes Intense X-Class Solar Flare, With More Expected

Sun Unleashes Intense X-Class Solar Flare, With More Expected

Sun Unleashes Intense X-Class Solar Flare, With More Expected

A powerful solar flare exploded on the sun’s surface late Thursday from a complex sunspot that could literally flare up again very quickly.

The explosion of charged particles was included as an X1.2 class flare. X flares are the most powerful category of flares and can cause geomagnetic storms to affect the Earth’s magnetic field with the potential to damage satellites, communications equipment, and even the power grid.

The flare was the strongest since at least October.


However, an X1 flare like this is on the lower end of the X scale. So no direct damage from the blast itself has yet been reported, with the exception of a shortwave radio blackout over parts of Australia and the South Pacific. This blackout was due to the energetic explosion of the solar flare that traveled at the speed of light to our planet and reached Earth in just eight minutes. Still, it was short.

However, scientists believe there is definitely more to this sunspot’s arsenal.

“Given the size and apparent complexity of this large active region, the explosions are likely to continue for several days to come,” writes former NASA astronomer Tony Phillips. space weather. com.

Powerful flares are often accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs) of hot plasma that can be flung toward Earth, but at much slower speeds, taking a day or more to make the journey.

When strong CMEs have a direct impact on Earth, the result can be bright aurora displays at higher latitudes, but also the aforementioned infrastructure damage. So far, there is no report of a CME accompanying Thursday’s outburst.

This is a welcome surprise, as the massive and energetically complex sunspot it spawned spent the early part of this week shooting powerful flares and CMEs on the far side of the sun. Now that sunspot, cataloged as AR3182, rotates in our direct line of sight from Earth, meaning future CMEs could be pointed right at us in the days to come.

NOAAs Forecasts from the Space Weather Prediction Center a 10 percent chance of more X flares over the weekend.

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