M-class solar flare erupts on the Sun, shows NASA; blackouts triggered on Earth, solar storm possible
NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) has detected a solar flare eruption on the Sun, which has triggered short-wave radio blackouts on the Earth. A solar storm is likely in the coming days.
Yesterday, a massive sunspot spanning 200,000 kilometers containing as many as 12 dark cores was reported on the Sun. As per information from the NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO), there was a high chance that it could explode at any moment, and that is exactly what happened just an hour ago. An M-class solar flare was seen erupting on the sunspot, whose extreme ultraviolet radiation sparked a short-wave radio blackout on the Earth. While NASA has not been able to confirm the presence of any Earth-bound coronal mass ejection (CME), this information should be revealed in a few hours' time.
According to a post made on X by the official account of Space Weather Live, the explosion occurred on the newly discovered and fast-expanding sunspot, which is already geoeffective. The post revealed that it was an M1.48 class flare. The eruption took place on the northwestern limb of the sunspot.
Solar storm possible as solar flare erupts
In the aftermath of the flare eruption, a short-wave radio blackout also took place on the Earth. The blackout was active over Australia, New Zealand, and eastern China. The blackout persisted for a brief period and might have resulted in communication disruptions for drone pilots, mariners, aviators, and emergency responders.
It is not confirmed that a solar storm will definitely hit the Earth. There is a possibility that no CME was released, or even if it was, it might be a non-Earth-directed CME. But in the scenario that a solar storm is indeed sparked on the Earth, it is likely to be a minor one. These are considered to be quite minor. Such solar storms may not be strong enough to affect mobile networks or damage satellites, but they can still cause further radio blackouts and disrupt GPS signals.
The role of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory
The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities. They include the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance, and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.