Solar Flares – The Sun is in an 11-year cycle of strong solar activity, with a peak in flares predicted for next year. This activity can disrupt power grids, satellites, oil pipelines, high-accuracy GPS systems and other eruptions on Earth.
A strong geomagnetic storm is racing from the Sun toward Earth, and its arrival on Thursday could affect power grids, airplane routes and space-based satellite navigation systems, U.S. space weather experts said.
At midnight UT the active solar region 1429 unleashed a powerful X5.4-class flare. X-class solar flares are the strongest of the flares. They are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.It appears that right after the large X5.4 flare another slightly lower, X1 flare (5 times smaller) occurred. You can clearly see a wave going across the Sun.
NASA says that they are still gathering data and that the Space Weather Forecast Lab will have updates available soon.
The storm, a big cloud of charged particles flung from the Sun at about 4.5 million miles per hour (7.2 million km per hour), was spawned by a pair of solar flares, scientists said.
This is probably the strongest such event in nearly six years, and is likely more intense than a similar storm in late January, said Joseph Kunches, a space weather specialist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Such stormy space weather is unusual in recent history, according to Harlan Spence, an astrophysicist at the University of New Hampshire who is principal investigator on the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
“These relatively large (solar) events, which we’ve had maybe a couple of handfuls total in the course of a decade, we’ve now had two or three of them, more or less right on top of each other,” Spence said by telephone.
The Sun is on the ascendant phase of its 11-year cycle of solar activity, with the peak expected next year, scientists said.