Massive solar storm strikes Earth; South America suffers BLACKOUT, says NASA

The Earth has just suffered a direct hit by a solar storm. The resulting radiation has caused a shortwave radio blackout over South America.

| Updated on: Jan 10 2023, 12:22 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)
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 Storm
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Know all about the solar storm that has struck the Earth today, January 10. (Pixabay)

Since the beginning of 2023, the Earth has become a target of vicious solar activity. After suffering a solar storm right on the new year's day, the Earth also became a victim of another eruption in the first week of January. But now, the Sun has blasted the Earth with an even stronger solar flare. According to NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), an X1.9-class solar flare erupted on January 10 at 12:20 AM. The resultant radiation has caused a shortwave radio blackout in some regions of South America. And the worst part? Read on for more information.

The incident was reported by on its website where it noted, “Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected an X1.9-class solar flare (Jan. 9th @ 1850 UT). The source is hyperactive sunspot AR3184, now emerging over the sun's southeastern limb….Radiation ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a shortwave radio blackout centered on the Pacific side of South America”. But it gets worse. While currently unclear, solar debris (in the form of coronal mass ejections) could have been lifted off the surface of the Sun and it can cause another solar storm in days to come.

Dangerous solar flare strikes the Earth

According to NASA SDO, the major portion of the solar flare struck South America and some parts of the USA. If you're wondering why solar flares are targeting the southern hemisphere these days, then it is because currently the southern hemisphere is experiencing summer and is tilted towards the Sun. That is why any radiation coming from the Sun is majorly impacting the southern half of the Earth. Australia, which was the central focus of the previous solar flare eruption, did not suffer a radio blackout as it was in the night-zone and did not face the Sun directly.

This blackout will directly affect ham radio operators, airlines as well as any individual or organization that uses radio frequencies for communication such as emergency services. While this particular solar flare's impact was limited to this, an extremely strong flare can lead to dangerous consequences. They are powerful enough to not only disrupt GPS, wireless communications and radio waves but also damage power grids and sensitive electronics such as pacemakers and supercomputers.

And as things stand, the Earth may soon suffer a violent attack by the Sun. revealed in a separate post, “The sun now has two large, unstable sunspots capable of producing very strong explosions: AR3182 and AR3184. Both are turning to face Earth, increasing the odds of geoeffective flares this week”.

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First Published Date: 10 Jan, 11:23 IST