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: Japan launches new spy satellite

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA releases images of first notable solar flare of 2015

Jan 13, 2015

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 11:24 p.m. EST on Jan. 12, 2015. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful ...

Image: Solar coronal hole welcomes the new year

Jan 05, 2015

There were no fireworks on the sun to welcome in the New Year and only a few C-class flares during the last day of 2014. Instead, the sun starts 2015 with an enormous coronal hole near the south pole. This ...

Solar observatories face the prospect of being eclipsed

Dec 31, 2014

Motors whirred as a gleaming white dome slowly opened, allowing one of the premier solar telescopes in the world to track the magnetic fields and exploding flares of the sun. In a few hours, computers would translate that ...

Sun sizzles in high-energy X-rays

Dec 23, 2014

For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun. NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic ...

Recommended for you

Japan launches new spy satellite

4 hours ago

Japan on Sunday successfully launched a back-up spy satellite, its aerospace agency said, after cancelling an earlier lift-off due to bad weather.

NASA launches satellite to measure soil moisture

4 hours ago

NASA on Saturday launched a new Earth-observing satellite that aims to give scientists high-resolution maps showing how much moisture lies in soil in order to improve climate forecasts.

Planck: Gravitational waves remain elusive

Jan 30, 2015

Despite earlier reports of a possible detection, a joint analysis of data from ESA's Planck satellite and the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments has found no conclusive evidence of primordial ...

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.