Tags: strong | solar | flare | earth | communications

Strong Solar Flare Scrambles Earthly Communication

Strong Solar Flare Scrambles Earthly Communication
Solar flare is visible as the sun emerges from a total eclipse by the moon on Aug. 21. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

By    |   Friday, 08 September 2017 12:01 PM

A strong solar flare on Wednesday, the biggest in 12 years, caused hour-long radio blackouts in some places on Earth and may still damage satellites and power systems in the next two days.

The Space Weather Prediction Center said the sun emitted two high-intensity solar flares, the second one the most intense since 2005, London's Daily Mail reported on Thursday. It was strong enough to scramble radio communications on the side of the Earth facing the sun, along with low-frequency communications used in navigation.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured images of both events.

NASA said both flares erupted from an active sun region labeled AR 2673, which also produced a mid-level solar flare on Monday. The second flare was the sun's largest flare so far in the current solar cycle.

Space.com said the sun can release a cloud of energetic plasma from its body in an event called a coronal mass ejection, CME. According to the Daily Mail, experts said the coronal mass ejection could reach Earth within the next two days, and that this could damage satellites, communication and power systems.

"(The flare) was accompanied by radio emissions that suggest there's a potential for a CME," Space Weather Prediction Center scientist Rob Steenburgh told Space.com. "However, we have to wait until we get some coronagraph imagery that would capture that event for a definitive answer."

If the CME reached Earth, it could also more "spectacular auroras," Space.com said.

The solar surge caught some experts off guard because the sun was approaching its solar minimum, its lowest level of activity in its 11-year cycle.

"We are heading toward solar minimum, but the interesting thing about that is you can still have events, they're just not as frequent," Steenburgh said, per Space.com. "We're not having X-flares every day for a week, for instance — the activity is less frequent, but no less potentially strong. These kind of events are just part of living with a star."

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TheWire
A strong solar flare on Wednesday, the biggest in 12 years, caused hour-long radio blackouts in some places on Earth and may still damage satellites and power systems in the next two days.
strong, solar, flare, earth, communications
330
2017-01-08
Friday, 08 September 2017 12:01 PM
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