Double solar flare explosion sparks BLACKOUTS on Earth; Is another solar storm looming?

In the last 3 hours, two M-class solar flares erupted on the Sun sparking radio blackouts on Earth. Is this a sign of an incoming solar storm?

| Updated on: Sep 16 2023, 08:57 IST
Do all solar activities like solar storms, CME, impact Earth? This is what NASA says
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1/5 Sun is a source of energy and a lot of activities keep on happening on the fireball. But can Earth be impacted by solar activities? Before we tell you that, it is important to know what solar activity is? According to NASA, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, high-speed solar wind, and solar energetic particles are all forms of solar activity. All solar activity is driven by the solar magnetic field. (NASA)
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2/5 Solar flares impact Earth only when they occur on the side of the sun facing Earth. Because flares are made of photons, they travel out directly from the flare site, so if we can see the flare, we can be impacted by it. (Pixabay)
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3/5 Coronal mass ejections, also called CMEs, are large clouds of plasma and magnetic field that erupt from the sun. These clouds can erupt in any direction, and then continue on in that direction, plowing right through the solar wind. Only when the cloud is aimed at Earth will the CME hit Earth and therefore cause impacts. (NASA)
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4/5 High-speed solar wind streams come from areas on the sun known as coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the sun and usually, only when they are closer to the solar equator, do the winds they produce impact Earth. (NASA)
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5/5 Solar energetic particles are high-energy charged particles, primarily thought to be released by shocks formed at the front of coronal mass ejections and solar flares. When a CME cloud plows through the solar wind, high velocity solar energetic particles can be produced and because they are charged, they must follow the magnetic field lines that pervade the space between the Sun and the Earth. Therefore, only the charged particles that follow magnetic field lines that intersect the Earth will result in impacts. (NASA)
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The solar flares erupted on the sunspot AR3429 on the northeastern side of the Sun. It is now being determined whether a CME was released during the eruption that could spark a solar storm that could, in turn, hit Earth. (Representative Photo) (Pixabay)

More solar activity has been detected on the Sun, and it could spell bad news for the Earth. Currently, there is a coronal mass ejection (CME) that is traveling towards us and is likely to strike the planet on Sunday, September 17. But before it can even hit us, more solar flares have erupted on the Sun. Two different M-class solar flares were detected exploding on the notorious sunspot region AR3429 which has already caused multiple solar flares so far. The extreme radiation from the solar flares sparked radio blackouts on the Earth, and scientists are now looking into the fact whether another CME was hurled towards the Earth and if it can spark another solar storm.

solar flare explosions trigger fears of solar storm

The information comes from the official X account of SpaceWeatherLive which posted about the first solar flare at 4:18 AM today, September 16. It was noted to be a moderate solar flare with the intensity of M.173. It sparked a shortwave radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean region for a brief period of time. The second solar flare was spotted at 6:39 AM in the morning when a more powerful M2.92-intensity flare exploded. This particular radio blackout also impacted Australia and New Zealand. Drone pilots, mariners, amateur radio operators, and emergency responders, all those who use shortwave radio frequencies, would have suffered a temporary disruption.

With such intense solar activity, the chances are high that one of these eruptions will also release CME. And if we are unlucky enough to get hit by a strong solar storm, it can destroy small satellites, disrupt GPS and mobile networks, damage the internet infrastructure, cause power grid failure, and even corrupt sensitive ground-based electronics.

How NASA SOHO watches the Sun

NASA's SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) is a satellite that was launched on December 2, 1995. It is a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the sun, its atmosphere, and its effects on the solar system. Equipped with 12 scientific instruments, such as Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT), Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI), LASCO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) and others, SOHO captures images of the Sun's corona, measures the velocity and magnetic fields of the Sun's surface, and observes the faint corona around the Sun.

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First Published Date: 16 Sep, 08:57 IST