Huge Solar Flare Explosion Disrupts Radio Comms And Could Cause Power Blackouts On Earth
An X-class solar flare erupted on the Sun that caused a fierce X1.5-class solar flare on May 10th. The radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, instigating a shortwave radio blackout around the Atlantic Ocean and may have slung a complicated CME toward Earth.
In the last month, the Earth has been inflicted with multiple strong solar storms that have caused radio blackouts in various parts of the world. The last solar storm caused blackouts in Australia and parts of Asia.
The uptick in solar activity is a result of the Sun moving closer to the peak of its maximum phase of its solar cycle. While the Sun won't reach its peak until 2025, the growing number of sunspots on the solar disk has already begun to create a bit of havoc for Earth.
The solar flare that occurred on May 10th is not expected to be a severe one, but it will still likely also cause GPS disruptions, and distort the navigation systems for airplanes and ships. NASA stated that if the solar storm towards the Earth were any stronger, it could have possibly damaged satellites causing disruptions in mobile networks and internet services.
Scientists categorize solar flares according to their strength. The largest flares can produce as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs, according to NASA. The smallest flares are A-class, followed by B, C, M, and X. Each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. While X is the last letter, there are flares more than 10 times the power of an X1, so X-class flares can go higher than nine.
Following the solar flare, a "mish-mash of CMEs" has surged away from the Sun's southern hemisphere. It is uncertain if these CMEs are related to the X-flare or instead of some other, lesser explosions that happened at nearly the same time. According to SpaceWeather.com, "there was a filament eruption to the right of the X-flare, and a C4-class solar flare in a different sunspot to the left." NOAA is currently analyzing these events using computer models to determine if one of the CMEs might impact Earth.
Top Image Courtesy of NASA