Monster Solar Flare Marks 7th Powerful Sun Storm in 7 Days

13 September, 2017, 21:04 | Author: Patsy Dennis
  • Coronal Mass Ejections | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun continuously, caught a few different views of last week's flares that can be seen in the above video.

A total of three X-class flares were observed over a 48-hour period, along with medium-intensity flares that went off earlier last week, and another, just slightly less intense X-class flare on Sunday.

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Solar flares occur when the sun's magnetic field - which creates the dark sunspots on the star's surface - twists up and reconnects, blasting energy outward and super-heating the solar surface. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) released a statement that warned of strong, high-frequency radio blackouts and navigation-system disruption, potentially lasting up to an hour.

NOAA issued a moderate geomagnetic storm watch for September 13 and a minor geomagnetic storm watch for September 14. The solar activity has been linked to increased aurora activity in the northern skies. Caused by the sudden release of magnetic energy, in just a few seconds flares can accelerate solar particles to very high velocities, nearly to the speed of light, and heat solar material to tens of millions of degrees. The flare was an X-class flare, the most intense variety.

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Solar ejections are often associated with flares and sometimes occur shortly after the flare explosion.

On Sunday, it produced an X8.2 flare, just slightly less powerful than the X9.3 produced on September 6. The SDO captured footage of both flares. If the radium levels of the rays go high, it can also be risky for astronauts of global space station and airline passengers.

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"The X9.3 flare was the largest flare so far in the current solar cycle, the approximately 11-year cycle during which the sun's activity waxes and wanes", NASA said. 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". "This is a phase when such eruptions on the sun are increasingly rare, but history has shown that they can nonetheless be intense". It overloaded all of NASA's solar measurement sensors, which cut out after measuring a flare of X28.

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