The Sun appears to have been a bit more active this past week, releasing a sizeable solar flare.
On Thursday, the sun released a significant solar flare toward Earth, peaking at 11:35 a.m. EDT, scientists say.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation and, although harmful radiation from flares cannot pass through the Earth’s atmosphere to physically impact humans, when intense enough they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
The flare was classified as an X1, with the X-class being the most intense. X10 flares are considered unusually intense.
This was the second X-class flare of Solar Cycle 25, which began in December 2019.
The flare is creating a fairly strong geomagnetic storm that will impact the Earth this Halloween, which may result in a spectacular atmospheric light show.
“Impacts to our technology from a G3 storm are generally nominal. However, a G3 storm has the potential to drive the aurora further away from its normal polar residence,” the SWPC [Space Weather Prediction Center] wrote. “The aurora might be seen over the far Northeast, to the upper Midwest and over the state of Washington.”
Large solar flares, or coronal mass ejections (CMEs), are a routine type of space weather that occur when enormous blobs of plasma (electrically charged gases that make up all the stars in the universe) escape the sun’s atmosphere and ooze through space at hundreds to thousands of miles a second. (The current G3 storm is traveling at about 600 miles, or 970 kilometers, per second, according to SWPC.)
It typically takes a CME about 15 to 18 hours to reach Earth, where the blob slams into our planet’s magnetic shield, compressing the shield slightly. Charged solar particles then shoot down the magnetic field lines, heading toward the North and South Poles and bumping into atmospheric molecules along the way. The agitated molecules release energy as colorful light, creating auroras.
The auroras produced may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon! I like to think this as a timely reminder from the Sun as to how much it influences conditions on the Earth.DONATE
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