Huge Solar Flare Spotted

Sep 08, 2005
Huge Solar Flare Spotted

Scientists are currently tracking a very large flare that occurred on the Sun around 1:40 pm EDT (17:40 UT). The current estimate of the size of the explosion is X-17; that would place the flare as the fifth largest ever observed.

Image: Wednesday's solar flare is visible on the left side of this solar image taken by the Earth-orbiting GOES Solar X-Ray Imager (SXI). Credit: NOAA.

While the blast was not aimed at Earth, the event created a complete blackout of high frequency communications in North and South America. According to the NOAA Space Environment Center, communications used by emergency services along the Gulf Coast may have experienced problems due to this flare. Low frequency navigation systems may also have experienced a period of significant degradation. Further, they report that agencies impacted by space weather storms may experience disruptions over the next two weeks. These include spacecraft operators, electric power systems, high frequency communications, and low-frequency navigations systems.

The source of the explosion is probably the same sunspot group that erupted in mid-August. Over the past two weeks, this active region produced a series of significant solar eruptions as it made its way around the back side of the Sun (facing away from Earth). More eruptions are expected in the coming days as it rotates back into view.

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) -- associated giant clouds of plasma in space -- are the largest explosions in the solar system and can pack the force of a billion megaton nuclear bombs. They are caused by the buildup and sudden release of magnetic stress in the solar atmosphere above the giant magnetic poles we see as sunspots.

The NASA/ESA SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), missed the event due to routine orbit maneuvers and instrument maintenance. Its coronagraphs will be back in operation Friday morning.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Up, up and away, in the name of science education

Related Stories

NASA's SDO sees mid-level solar flare

Jun 25, 2015

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 4:16 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2015. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful ...

Mastering magnetic reconnection

Jun 17, 2015

On March 12, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists launched four observational satellites into space, officially beginning the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission. The diminutive ...

SMILE space mission passes first hurdle

Jun 04, 2015

A space mission called SMILE (Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer) which is jointly led by UCL and the Chinese National Space Science Center has received the go-ahead for an initial study phase ...

Herschel's hunt for filaments in the Milky Way

May 29, 2015

Observations with ESA's Herschel space observatory have revealed that our Galaxy is threaded with filamentary structures on every length scale. From nearby clouds hosting tangles of filaments a few light-years ...

Recommended for you

Up, up and away, in the name of science education

10 hours ago

US researchers extol the virtues of high-altitude balloons for science education in a research paper published in the International Journal of Learning Technology. According to Jeremy Straub of the University of North Dakota ...

New plan proposed to send humans to Mars

11 hours ago

A new, cost-constrained U.S. strategy to send humans on Mars, could be achieved within projected NASA budgets by minimizing new developments and relying mainly on already available or planned NASA assets. ...

'Cause unknown' in SpaceX rocket blast

13 hours ago

SpaceX came up empty Monday in its search to figure out why an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after blasting off from a NASA launchpad with a load of space-bound cargo.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.