February 2, 2023
Big explosion in the sun heralds solar storms

Big explosion in the sun heralds solar storms

This Easter large solar flare was the third largest solar flare to date in the current 11-year solar cycle | Soho / NASA

The sun recorded a huge solar flare this Easter weekend, cutting off radio on Earth and signaling what should be a very favorable period for solar storms in the coming days as a group of sunspots on the surface of the sun are expected to encounter many active spots. our planet in the coming days.

The Easter solar flare peaked at 12:34 a.m. Sunday and was followed minutes later by a massive solar flare known as coronal mass ejection, according to the United States Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), part of the US Department of Energy. Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA).

The eruption was recorded as a Category X1.1 solar storm (Class X storms are the strongest in the Sun) and lasted about 34 minutes, according to SWPC officials.

The eruption originated from Zones 2994 and 2993, a group of active sunspots that have experienced “major eruptions” since emerging at the Sun’s edge, the SWPC reports.

“Solar activity is expected to be active in the next week as these sunspots migrate across the visible disk of the sun,” the agency wrote in an update.

As soon as a sunspot approaches a location facing the Earth, the risk of solar storms with a geological effect, that is, capable of causing impacts on our planet, increases.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Spacetime Center, this Easter solar flare resulted in a short radio blackout and was classified as a Type II radio solar flare.

“These outbursts are caused by shock waves at the ends of the coronal mass ejections,” astronomer Tony Phillips of Spaceweather.com wrote in an update.

Phillips noted that the volcanic eruption occurred at the far end of the Sun, and it is likely that the coronal mass ejection that generated it was not directed toward Earth.

Category X solar flares, such as the one recorded on Sunday, are the most powerful type of storm on the sun. The weakest solar flares are Category A; Category B and C storms are also relatively light.

More powerful storms of category M and above can lead to more intense auroras at the poles while more powerful storms of category X can pose a danger to Earth-orbiting satellites and astronauts when pointed directly at Earth.

Solar flares this Easter weekend follow a class X1.3 solar storm on March 30 and several Class C and M flares from different sunspot regions in recent weeks.

The Sun is currently in an increasingly active phase of the 11-year solar climate cycle (the current cycle is known as Solar Cycle 25 and began in 2019). NASA, SWPC, and other solar scientists are tracking the Sun’s spacetime with a number of spacecraft such as the NASA Solar Dynamics Orbiter and NASA’s Solar and Heliosphere Observatory (SOHO), among others.

Solar flares are a powerful release of energy in the sun. Explosions and solar flares can affect radio communications, electrical power grids, navigation signals and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts, but for the residents of Brazil they pose no greater risks because the country is located at medium and low latitudes.