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?
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 SpaceWeather.com, “ 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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