Huge solar flare jams radio, satellite signals: NASA

Feb 17, 2011
A NASA image of an erupting solar flare (R). The strongest solar flare in four years disrupted radio communications in southern China, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

A powerful solar eruption that triggered a huge geomagnetic storm has disturbed radio communications and could disrupt electrical power grids, radio and satellite communication in the next days, NASA said.

A strong wave of charged plasma particles emanating from the Jupiter-sized sun spot, the most powerful seen in four years, has already disrupted radio communication in southern China.

The Class X flash -- the largest such category -- erupted at 0156 GMT Tuesday, according to the US space agency.

"X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events that can trigger radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms," disturbing telecommunications and electric grids, NASA said Wednesday.

Geomagnetic storms usually last 24 to 48 hours -- but some could last for many days, read a statement from the US National Weather Service.

"Ground to air, ship to shore, shortwave broadcast and amateur radio are vulnerable to disruption during geomagnetic storms. Navigation systems like GPS can also be adversely affected."

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory said it saw a large coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the flash blasting toward Earth at about 560 miles per second (900 kilometers per second).

The flare spread from Active Region 1158 in the sun's southern hemisphere, which had so far lagged behind the northern hemisphere in flash activity. It followed several smaller flares in recent days.

"The calm before the storm," read a statement on the US National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Service.

"Three CMEs are enroute, all a part of the Radio Blackout events on February 13, 14, and 15 (UTC). The last of the three seems to be the fastest and may catch both of the forerunners about mid to late ... February 17."

The China Meteorological Administration reported that the solar flare caused "sudden ionospheric disturbances" in the atmosphere above China and jammed shortwave radio communications in the southern part of the country.

The CMA warned there was a high probability that large solar flares would appear over the next three days, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said meanwhile that the solar storm would result in spectacular Northern Lights displays starting Thursday.

One coronal mass ejection reached Earth on February 14, "sparking Valentine's Day displays of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) further south than usual."

"Two CMEs are expected to arrive in the next 24-48 hours and further... displays are possible some time over the next two nights if skies are clear," it said.

The office published geomagnetic records dating back to the Victorian era which it hopes will help in planning for future storms.

"Life increasingly depends on technologies that didn't exist when the magnetic recordings began," said Alan Thomson, BGS head of geomagnetism.

"Studying the records will tell us what we have to plan and prepare for to make sure systems can resist solar storms," he said.

A 2009 report by a panel of scientists assembled by NASA said that a sustained and powerful solar flare outbreak could overwhelm high-voltage transformers with electrical currents and short-circuit energy grids.

The report, titled "Severe Space Weather Events -- Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts" warned that such a catastrophic event could cost the United States alone up to two trillion dollars in repairs in the first year -- and it could take up to 10 years to fully recover.

Explore further: Copernicus operations secured until 2021

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sun still unsettled for another few days

Sep 13, 2005

Geomagnetic storms are expected to continue for the next few days, raising the chances of disruptions to radio transmissions and other communications.

The Sun Loses its Spots

Jul 24, 2007

While sidewalks crackle in the summer heat, NASA scientists are keeping a close eye on the sun. It is almost spotless, a sign that the Sun may have reached solar minimum. Scientists are now watching for the ...

The Day the Sun Brought Darkness (w/Video)

Mar 13, 2009

On March 13, 1989 the entire province of Quebec, Canada suffered an electrical power blackout. Hundreds of blackouts occur in some part of North America every year. The Quebec Blackout was different, because ...

Solar Fireworks Signal New Space Weather Mystery

May 24, 2005

The most intense burst of solar radiation in five decades accompanied a large solar flare on January 20. It shook space weather theory and highlighted the need for new forecasting techniques, according to several presentations ...

Sneak Attacks from the Sun

Dec 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Our Sun can be a menace when it sends out powerful solar blasts of radiation towards the Earth. Astronomers keenly watch the Sun to learn more about what powers these solar eruptions, in hopes ...

Recommended for you

Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

11 hours ago

(Phys.org) —As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

14 hours ago

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

17 hours ago

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

NASA image: Sunrise from the International Space Station

18 hours ago

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. ...

Copernicus operations secured until 2021

18 hours ago

In a landmark agreement for Europe's Copernicus programme, the European Commission and ESA have signed an Agreement of over €3 billion to manage and implement the Copernicus 'space component' between 2014 ...

User comments : 12

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

technicalengeneering
1.4 / 5 (7) Feb 17, 2011
Yeah right southren china, distrubances and not in Russia? They're just deliberately jamming radio there to prevent protests in Tibet.
apex01
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2011
its the 1859 solar storm
omatumr
1 / 5 (7) Feb 17, 2011
Thanks for the story.

If the alliance of world leaders, politicians and scientists finally grasps that life is powered by N-N repulsion in the core of the Sun, an empirical fact that the Department of Energy chooses to ignore, we may all become “right sized.”

Then everyone will know that world leaders, the scientific establishment, and Ak Gore are as powerless as the rest of us.

youtube.com/watch?v=sXNyLYSiPO0

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Andrux
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2011
its the 1859 solar storm
-->That's right! it's coming again!

omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Feb 17, 2011
Piers Corbyn - a meteorologist, astrophysicist, and owner of Weather Action - uses solar events like this to predict weather forecasts up to a year in advance.
nuge
5 / 5 (4) Feb 18, 2011
Anyone can predict weather a year in advance. I could predict weather a millenium in advance if I wanted to. I may not be correct though.
jsa09
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 18, 2011
well i think we should blame that solar flare on global warming.
omatumr
1 / 5 (7) Feb 18, 2011
Anyone can predict weather a year in advance. I could predict weather a millenium in advance if I wanted to. I may not be correct though.


Yes, the world leaders and others who ignored Earth's heat source in making long-term weather predictions discovered that fact.

See: "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun"
Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144
arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

nuge
not rated yet Feb 18, 2011
Hey, where's my kind regards?
omatumr
1 / 5 (6) Feb 18, 2011
It is the energetic neutron star at the core of the Sun that produces these eruptions.

The ball of hydrogen (photosphere) that we call the Sun is actually waste products from the neutron star at the solar core:

Neutron star =(n-emission)=> neutron =(n-decay)=> H+ + e-

See: ["Neutron repulsion", 19 pages, in press (2011)]
arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1
vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (5) Feb 19, 2011
Sub: Wake-up
I am still not seeing the Scientific Community to see reality. A three Tier-mode and a three Tier Spread function-Concepts are introduced in my research.
Now -one needs to search "What drives the Sun"
see Cosmology Vedas Interlinks -projections and STSCI-May 2003 Paper as well. Contact -Eastwest Interaction in time to understand current mode Time-phase EM interaction
Vidyardhi Nanduri
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Feb 19, 2011
See also: "Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate," Journal of Fusion Energy 21 (2002) 193-198

arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0501441v1

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.