On September 6, the sunlight let its presence be seen by unleashing two massive solar flares. The 1st eruption, classified as an X2.2 flare, the strongest since 2008, occurred at 5:10 a.m. ET. Soon there after, at 8:02 a.m ET, the star spewed out a much bigger, and many more dramatic, X9.3 flare – the strongest on record since December 2006.
Solar flares, or storms, begin from an outburst usually over a sunspot, the place where strong magnetic fields poke with the sun’s surface. When these spots become unstable, they erupt, releasing arrrsubstantial amountrrrof energy. Solar flares are classified into one among five categories – A, B, C, M, or X – with every letter indicating an outburst that is definitely 10 times stronger versus the previous one. The most powerful X flares are equipped for producing as often energy as being a billion hydrogen bombs. There is gradation within each category. One example is, the X9 flare was seven times more serious compared to X2 flare.
Both flares emanated from active region AR 2673. Measuring seven Earth’s wide by nine Earth’s tall, it is the smaller of two massive sunspots off of the sun’s surface which are currently active. However, it’s the more unstable one, releasing numerous solar flares mainly because it was first identified on August 29.
Though the fierce bursts of radiation are harmful, they may be blocked via the Earth’s atmosphere and, therefore, not able to affect humans or animals in the grass. However, the coronal mass ejections (CME) – clouds of protons along with other charged particles – that follow the flares within about 20 min can disrupt our satellite systems, GPS tracking devices, and power grids. In line with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the September 6 CMEs were powerful enough to power outages both high-frequency radio waves and low-frequency communication utilized in navigation, for approximately an hour, over the sunlit side of Earth.
However, the slight inconvenience is worthwhile, given that once the electrically-charged particles enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases like oxygen and nitrogen, they spark auroras. The incredible light shows are typically observed much better the southern and northern hemisphere poles for the reason that Earth’s magnetic field attracts the particles toward them. However, recent powerful CMEs lighted the skies across northern latitudes and could be seen entirely from Finland and Scotland in Europe to Kansas and Ohio in america.
The occurrence within the flares just as were getting into a solar minimum, the quietest period of the sun’s 11-year periodic activity cycle, is causing some concern. However, scientists say the eruptions, are just a component of our star’s activity. Besides, AR 2673, which fired off one last X8.2-class flare on September 10, is currently away from the Earth-facing side contained in the sun’s normal rotation, and therefore, is going to be unable to send more explosions our way.
Resources: NASA.gov, space.com, aurora-service.eu