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: France raises heat on decision for next Ariane rocket

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Solar storm heads Earth's way after double sun blasts

Sep 11, 2014

Two big explosions on the surface of the sun will cause a moderate to strong geomagnetic storm on Earth in the coming days, possibly disrupting radio and satellite communications, scientists said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Miranda: An icy moon deformed by tidal heating

4 hours ago

Miranda, a small, icy moon of Uranus, is one of the most visually striking and enigmatic bodies in the solar system. Despite its relatively small size, Miranda appears to have experienced an episode of intense ...

The latest observations of interstellar particles

10 hours ago

With all the news about Voyager 1 leaving the heliosphere and entering interstellar space you might think that the probe is the first spacecraft to detect interstellar particles. That isn't entirely true, ...

User comments : 0