Solar storm ALERT! Earth suffers blackouts as sun spews solar flares, NOAA satellite shows | Tech News

Solar storm ALERT! Earth suffers blackouts as sun spews solar flares, NOAA satellite shows

A sunspot duo has been exploding non-stop, producing a barrage of M-class solar flares on the Sun. The ultraviolet radiation has resulted in a rolling series of blackouts across the planet. More solar storm trouble coming?

| Updated on: May 20 2023, 09:43 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
1/5 The Sun is the largest object in our solar system and is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of the solar system. It is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest bits of debris in orbit around it. The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The Sun’s activity, from its powerful eruptions to the steady stream of charged particles it sends out, influences the nature of space throughout the solar system. (NASA)
3/5 According to NASA, measuring a “day” on the Sun is complicated because of the way it rotates. It doesn't spin as a single, solid ball. This is because the Sun’s surface isn't solid like Earth's. Instead, the Sun is made of super-hot, electrically charged gas called plasma. This plasma rotates at different speeds on different parts of the Sun. At its equator, the Sun completes one rotation in 25 Earth days. At its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days. (NASA)
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4/5 Above the Sun’s surface are its thin chromosphere and the huge corona (crown). This is where we see features such as solar prominences, flares, and coronal mass ejections. The latter two are giant explosions of energy and particles that can reach Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
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Know all about the new solar storm development today. (Pixabay)

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16 (GOES-16), operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has picked up some really concerning data. According to its X-Ray Flux readings, two sunspots on the eastern limb of the Sun have been exploding without a pause and erupting M-class solar flares in the process. These solar flares are still not entirely Earth-facing but even then, the Earth has been facing a rolling series of blackouts across all its longitudes. These two sunspots also include AR3310 which produced the nearly X-class solar flare on May 16. There is a significant concern that high solar activity can lead to a major solar storm event.

As per a report by, “ Earth-orbiting satellites are detecting an almost non-stop fusillade of M-class flares so closely spaced they overlap in time. Pulses of UV radiation are ionizing the top of Earth's atmosphere, creating a rolling series of shortwave radio blackouts around all longitudes of our planet. Ham radio operators may notice a fluctuating loss of signal at frequencies below 20 MHz”.

Unstable sunspots trigger blackouts

According to the satellite data, there are two sunspots that are causing these hyperactive solar flare eruptions. First is AR3310, which has been already mentioned and is the larger and more powerful of the two. The other sunspot is AR3311 which is far more unstable and has produced the majority of the M-class solar flare eruptions on the Sun.

The two sunspots are expected to face the Earth over the weekend and will become fully geoeffective. It is also believed that an X-class solar flare eruption is possible in the duration when they remain geoeffective. This can generate an extremely powerful solar storm.

A powerful solar storm hitting the Earth can damage satellites, disrupt GPS, mobile networks, and internet connectivity, cause power grid failure, and even impact ground-based electronics.

Know the GOES-16 satellite

GOES-16, formerly known as GOES-R before reaching geostationary orbit, is the first of the GOES-R series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was launched on November 19, 2016, and became operational on December 18, 2017. GOES-16 is located in geostationary orbit over the Atlantic Ocean and provides continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth's Western Hemisphere. It also carries a lightning mapper, which can detect both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. GOES-16 is a vital tool for weather forecasting, climate monitoring, and space weather prediction.

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First Published Date: 20 May, 09:42 IST