Huge solar flare just hit Earth today; causes blackout in Australia, NZ

    A dangerous M-5 class solar flare hit the Earth today causing a radio blackout in Australia and New Zealand.

    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Nov 07 2022, 08:57 IST
    NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
    Solar storm
    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)
    CME
    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)
    Coronal Mass Ejection or CME
    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)
    Solar Particles
    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)
    Solar flare
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    Know more about this solar flare which hit Earth today. (NASA)

    As the Sun enters the peak of its solar cycle, more solar flares, solar storms and geomagnetic storms are expected to hit the planet. The Sun is in the middle of its 11-year solar cycle leading to an increase in solar activity and solar output in the past few months. Strong Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) have been observed being emitted from the Sun in the past couple of days. Today, a strong M-5 class solar flare hit the Earth during early hours, causing a radio blackout.

    According to spaceweather.com, M-5 class solar flare hurled from the Sun as the result of an eruption of a Sunspot AR3141 at 0011 UT today, November 7. The solar flare caused shortwave radio blackouts around the South Pacific, including part of Australia and all of New Zealand.

    “Sunspot AR3141 exploded on Nov. 7th (0011 UT), producing an impulsive M5-class solar flare. Radiation ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere and caused a shortwave radio blackout over the South Pacific, including part of Australia and all of New Zealand,” the spaceweather.com reports said.

    What are Sunspots?

    According to NASA, Sunspots are dark areas on the solar surface which contain strong magnetic fields that are constantly shifting and can form and dissipate over periods of days or weeks. They occur when strong magnetic fields emerge through the solar surface and allow the area to cool slightly.

    What happens when solar particles hit the Earth?

    As the particles spewed out by the Sun during the CME reach Earth, they interact with Earth's magnetic field and cause the formation of Geomagnetic storms. When solar particles hit Earth, radio communications and the power grid is affected as it impacts the planet's magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large.

    Auroras form as a result of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun which sends solar fares hurtling towards Earth. Geomagnetic storms are often the precursor to stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

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    First Published Date: 07 Nov, 08:56 IST
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