NASA warns 'significant' solar storm flare set to batter Earth: 'Direct hit on Halloween' - blog.sciencenatures

Saturday, August 19, 2023

NASA warns 'significant' solar storm flare set to batter Earth: 'Direct hit on Halloween'

  A major solar flare erupted from the Sun yesterday in the strongest storm seen in the current weather cycle. It fired off what is known as an X1-class solar flare, the most powerful of its kind, that peaked at 3:30 pm, according to reports. 

NASA officials dubbed it a "significant solar flare," adding that it was captured in real-time video by the space agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The most powerful category of solar flars, “X-class flares” are based on a classification system that divides solar flares according to their strength. The smallest ones are A-class , followed by B, C, M and X.  

Now, a coronal mass ejection from the flare could batter Earth over the weekend.A CME is a large eruption of charged particles coming from the flare.

When these enter the atmosphere where satellites lie, power outages and widespread communications failures are a significant worry.

It has already wreaked some havoc, causing a temporary but strong radio blackout on the sun-lit section of South America.

Space weather forecaster the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the R3 (Strong radio blackout) event took place as a result of an "impulsive flare". that "appeared to have coronal mass ejection (CME) related signatures".

And that could spell bad news, with more chaos reportedly on the way.

Space weather forecasters at said that the CME is racing towards Earth. at 1260 km/s (2.8 million mph).It is predicted that it may strike the Earth by Saturday or Sunday. 

Dr Tamitha Skov, a space weather physicist, said on Twitter: "A direct hit for Halloween! The solar storm launched during the X-flare today is indeed Earth-directed!"NASA predictions confirm impact by early October 31. "Expect aurora to mid-latitudes, as well as GPS reception issues and amateur radio disruptions on Earth's nightside!"

But while X-class flares represent the most intense category of Sun flares, the number indicates the strength of the X-category flare.

Luckily, X-1 is ranked the least powerful, so we should be grateful that we don't have an X-2 that is twice as intense, or even an X-10, 10 times as intense as the storm heading to Earth right now.

But even a minor storm has the ability to cause chaos if it comes directly into contact with a satellite.

While the CME launched into space on October 28 from an exploding sunspot, a G-3 rated (ranked from 1-5 in strength) geomagentic storm is also expected to strike Earth's geomagnetic field. 

Such storms can spark naked-eye auroras, and a G-2 storm earlier this month brought views of the spectacular northern lights to some lucky UK viewers.

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