Solar flare strikes Earth, causes BLACKOUT in Australia and New Zealand

A major solar flare activity was recorded in the early hours today, January 6. The X-class flare caused a shortwave radio blackout affecting most of the South Pacific including Australia and New Zealand.

| Updated on: Jan 06 2023, 12:07 IST
WOW! This photo of the solar flare is LIT!; Check these stunning NASA photos
Solar prominence
1/6 The Solar Dynamics Observatory is an orbiting spacecraft by NASA which has been tasked with taking images of the Sun’s entire disk across a range of wavelengths every ten seconds. (NASA)
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2/6 These images taken by the observatory have a resolution 10 times higher than a high-definition television, according to NASA. (NASA)
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3/6 In this incident, the Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an M-class solar flare, which is a moderate solar flare, on Thursday, March 31. (NASA)
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4/6 Solar flares are caused by random combustions taking place on the surface of the Sun. It is not yet known what really causes these combustions. However, the area AR2975 has been classified as a magnetically complex region which is causing instability in the hydrogen atoms in the area resulting in solar flares. (NASA)
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5/6 This solar flare was of the M-class but it was not too far from turning into an X-class, which is the strongest solar flare category. Earlier this week, an X-class solar flare caused a brief shortwave radio blackout on Earth. (NASA)
Solar prominence
6/6 Once a flare goes off, it shoots solar matter and radiation into space which is known as coronal mass ejection or CME. This CME, when it comes in contact with the Earth’s atmosphere, is known as solar storm or geomagnetic storm. (Pixabay)
Solar prominence
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Know all about the X-class solar flare that has struck the Earth today, January 6. (NASA)

It was reported earlier that multiple unstable regions have emerged on the Sun, resulting in chaotic solar activity. This is now impacting Earth. On Wednesday, the Earth suffered a minor solar storm strike, which shockingly, managed to push a satellite away from its orbit. It was also reported that there were chances of a solar flare eruption today, January 6. The fears have now come true in the worst of forms as the strongest X-class solar flare has erupted from the Sun directly facing the Earth. The flare has resulted in a shortwave radio blackout which has affected most of the South Pacific region including Australia and New Zealand.

The incident was reported by which noted on its website, “Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected a major X1.2-class solar flare (Jan. 6th @ 0057 UT)". The source is the emerging sunspot AR3182. The solar flare was so strong that it caused a shortwave radio blackout that affected most of the South Pacific including Australia and New Zealand. Do note that it is a developing incident and more details are awaited at the moment.

Massive solar flare hits the Earth

The solar flare eruption was detected at around 6:27 AM by the Earth-orbiting satellites. It is also unclear whether the solar flare has damaged any satellites or hindered their performance. The solar flare impacted the southern hemisphere but missed the African continent. The major affected nations include Australia, New Zealand as well as some East Asian island nations.

An X-class solar flare is the strongest class of solar flares. These 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. A solar flare needs to be extremely strong to actually damage surface level electronics, radios and other wireless communications, but if it is, it can have extremely dangerous consequences for humanity.

DSCOVR satellite's role in solar weather monitoring

NOAA monitors the solar storms and Sun's behavior using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The different measurements are done on temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles.

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First Published Date: 06 Jan, 11:15 IST
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