M9.6-class solar flare EXPLODES, sparks blackouts! Satellite hints at new solar storm
A terrifyingly powerful M9.6-class solar flare erupted on the Sun yesterday, May 16, causing radio blackouts in North America. Now, fears over another solar storm Is being expressed by astronomers.
After a relatively low period of solar activity, the Sun sprung back into action yesterday, May 16. A near-X-class solar flare eruption occurred on the southeastern limb of the Sun. Even as the explosion was on the horizon of the Sun and a part of it was eclipsed due to its edge, the solar flare had a major impact on the Earth. Ultraviolet radiation ionized the upper atmosphere and caused a shortwave radio blackout over North America and the northern parts of South America. And now, fears are rising over another major solar storm that could be headed toward the Earth.
As per a SpaceWeather.com report, “Earth-orbiting satellites detected an M9.6-class solar flare from a sunspot hiding behind the sun's southeastern limb. It was only percentage points away from being an X-flare. The event could herald a period of renewed solar activity as the sunspot turns toward Earth”.
Solar storm fears rise for the Earth
The radio blackout was so severe that several reports highlighted that most of the shortwave frequencies faded away when the flare erupted. This would have affected mariners, amateur radio operators, and aviators. The blackout persisted for about an hour before subsiding.
Next, the Earth must prepare for an incoming coronal mass ejection (CME) that can cause further solar storms. And even if we were lucky enough to escape that, the massive sunspot that caused the flare explosion will soon face our planet. The sunspot is crackling with solar flares and can possibly hurl multiple CME clouds towards us triggering a chain of solar storm events.
How NASA SOHO monitors 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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