Danger! Powerful X-class solar flare hits Earth; South America suffers blackout | Tech News

Danger! Powerful X-class solar flare hits Earth; South America suffers blackout

A powerful X-Class solar flare peaked on February 11, NOAA alerted.

| Updated on: Feb 12 2023, 10:12 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
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1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
Solar flare
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
Solar flare
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
Solar flare
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
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5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
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A possible strong radio blackout is possible as an aftermath of an X-class solar flare. (NASA)

Recently, an unusual activity on the surface of the Sun baffled scientists recently. NASA's James Webb telescope captured a huge part of the Sun breaking off of its surface. Resultantly, it created a tornado-like swirl around its North Pole. It is due to the violent sunspot AR3213, which has exploded again and caused a solar flare eruption. Sunspot AR3217 is said to have a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. And that's exactly what happened just now! A giant and powerful solar flare erupted from the surface of the Sun.

The incident was reported by SpaceWeather.com on its website where it noted, “Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected an X1.1-class solar flare from sunspot AR3217 on February 11 at 15:48 UTC. Extreme UV radiation ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a strong shortwave radio blackout over South America.”

What does X-Class solar flare mean? It must be noted that an X-class solar flare denotes one of the most intense flares. Basically, solar flares are classified into four classes - A, B, C, M, and X, based on their intensity. While, Solar flares are intense bursts of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy, from a Sunspot. And the number along with the intensity symbol of the solar flare denotes its strength.

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Effect of Solar Flare

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned about possible radio blackouts as a consequence of resultant solar storm. NOAA says that temporary degraded radio high frequency radio reception on the sunlit side of the Earth is possible. Not just that! Even more flares are expected from this region as it moves across the sun creating occasional degradation of high frequency (3-30 MHz) communication.

Meanwhile, SpaceWeather.com says that "Ham radio operators, aviators, and mariners may have noticed unusual propagation effects at frequencies below 30 MHz for as much as an hour after the flare."

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First Published Date: 12 Feb, 10:12 IST