- Two high-intensity solar flares were emitted, the second of which was the most intense recorded since the start of this sun cycle in December 2008, NASA said.
- These radiation flares, which can disrupt communications satellites, GPS and power grids by reaching the upper Earth atmosphere, were detected and captured by the US Space Agency’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
- According to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), these so-called category X eruptions disrupted high-frequency radio communications for one hour on the Earth’s side facing the sun and low-frequency communications used in navigation.
- The two eruptions occurred in an active region of the sun where an eruption of average intensity occurred on September 4.
- The current cycle of the sun, which began in December 2008, saw the intensity of solar activity decline sharply, opening the way to the “solar minimum.”
Solar Cycles and Solar Flares: Know More
- Solar cycles last on average eleven years.
- At the end of the active phase, these eruptions become increasingly rare but still can be powerful.
- Solar storms result from an accumulation of magnetic energy in some places.
- These jets of ionized matter are projected–at high speed into and beyond the crown of the sun– hundreds of thousands of kilometres outward.
- NASA has recorded the biggest solar flare for 12 years as the sun unleashed an X-Class flare on September 6.
- The flare, which peaked at 8.02am EDT, caused a radio blackout following the “shock arrival” of radiation from the sun.
- The solar flare was the largest recorded since September 2005, when an X17 was released.
X-class represents the most intense solar flares, with an X2 being twice as intense as an X1.
- The largest solar flare ever recorded was an X20 in April 2001.
- Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
CME and Solar Flares
- CMEs and solar flares are different phenomena but often occur at the same time when it comes to the strongest solar flares.
- Both are created when the sun’s interior contorts its own magnetic fields—as the magnetic field snaps like a rubber band it releases a huge amount of energy into space.
- The flash of light and high energy particles released is the solar flare, while the solar matter from the magnetic contortions are CMEs.
- A huge solar storm in 1859 – known as the Carrington Event – caused telegraph systems across Europe and North America to fail and auroras associated with the solar winds could be seen as far south as the Caribbean.
- If a similar sized storm hit today, it is estimated it could cost around $2 trillion.