Today, the sun produced a strong X-class solar flare that peaked at 8:10 a.m. (1310 GMT) and caused shortwave radio blackouts throughout the Southern Atlantic, Africa, and South America.
Last night, a big unstable sunspot erupted, sending an extremely hot plasma plumes through the sun’s surface at 400 km/s and causing radio blackouts in Australia and Southeast Asia.
On Monday, a long-duration flare erupted from the sun, initiating the event. The solar explosion was felt on Earth by Tuesday morning, just after 10 am ET, causing significant disruptions.
With a 45 percent probability of more communication outages in the next few days, the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center has since released an advisory.
This prediction emphasizes how erratic solar activity is and how it affects technology on Earth.
Solar flares are abrupt, powerful radiation eruptions that come from the Sun’s surface and its surrounding atmosphere. They result from magnetic field lines near sunspots twisting, crossing, or rearranging. It is connected to sunspots and produces radio and magnetic disruptions on Earth.
When flares erupt, they can cause the Sun’s plasma to heat up to thousands of degrees Celsius, releasing energy that can create light in radio waves and gamma rays as well as other electromagnetic spectrums.
Flares can last for a few minutes to several hours. In spite of their short duration, they can disrupt the ionosphere and cause problems for electrical grids, radio communications, and navigation systems.
According to the source, solar physicist Keith Strong twitted about the eruption on X, claiming that the long-duration solar flare from the sunspot region AR3575 began on Monday (Feb 5) at 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 GMT on Feb 6). He further claimed it peaked on Feb 6 around 10:15 EST (or 03:15 GMT).
Coronal Mass Ejections(CMEs) & Solar Flares
Additionally, the eruption resulted in coronal mass ejections (CMEs). CEMs are massive bubbles of coronal plasma that are expelled from the Sun and are threaded by strong magnetic field lines, according to NASA.
Large amounts of magnetized plasma are sent into space during CMEs. Unlike electromagnetic solar flares, CMEs are huge gas bubbles laced with magnetic field lines that are released over several hours. With their top speed of 2,000 km/s, they have the ability to send billions of tons of coronal material into orbit.
These ejections have the potential to interact with Earth’s magnetic field and produce geomagnetic storms when they head towards our planet. While these storms can create magnificent auroras, they can also disrupt satellite operations, power grids, and communication networks.
Strong on X commented on the CME post, stating that since the solar flare’s source region is “long way south” of the Sun, it may pass beneath Earth.
According to a Space.com article, the M-flare’s strong X-ray pulse and strong UV radiation advancing toward Earth caused widespread radio blackouts.
In less than eight minutes, the radiation reached Earth, ionizing the upper atmosphere and creating shortwave radio blackouts in the sunlit area of the planet at the time.
High probability of solar flare outbursts and related ongoing activity
The event highlights how erratic the sun can be, as predicted by EarthSky, which suggests that there is a good chance of more solar activity in the future, including C, M, and X flares. While X flares are large solar outbursts that have the potential to seriously disturb the entire world, C-class flares are comparatively insignificant.
Astronomers and space weather forecasters actively monitor both solar flares and CMEs because they have the potential to disrupt space- and ground-based technology.
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center conducts daily analyses of sunspot regions to assess risks. The Royal Observatory of Belgium’s World Data Center for the Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations monitors sunspots and records the highs and lows of the solar cycle in order to assess solar activity and enhance space weather forecasts. NASA has a fleet of spacecraft—known collectively as the Heliophysics Systems Observatory (HSO)—designed to investigate the sun and its influence on the solar system, including the effects of space weather.