Sun sparks solar storm, causes radio blackouts on Earth; NASA SDO reveals reason and affected regions | Tech News

Sun sparks solar storm, causes radio blackouts on Earth; NASA SDO reveals reason and affected regions

Sun has been active and the Earth has been hit by a solar storm. The reason behind that is an X-class solar flare that impacted Earth on December 31 and it is still affecting the planet with radio blackouts. Know what NASA SDO said.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Jan 04 2024, 10:55 IST
X-class solar flare exploded on Sun; can trigger strong solar storms on Earth, reveals NASA
solar flare
1/5 After a week-long ordeal with solar wind, things are now getting worse for the Earth. Yesterday, December 14, a powerful X-class solar flare exploded on the Earth-facing side of the Sun. The intense solar flare triggered a brief short-wave radio blackout on the Earth. And now, NASA has confirmed that a large coronal mass ejection (CME) is headed towards our planet. The early prediction models have shown that it can make an impact between today December 14, and December 17, triggering a solar storm that can escalate to powerful levels. (Pixabay)
solar flare
2/5 Initially, the solar storm is predicted to be a minor one with an intensity of G1-class, but there is a chance of it rising to G3-class as well. SpaceWeather.com reported, “Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on Dec. 15th or 16th in response to an incoming solar wind stream with a stealthy CME embedded in it. Storm levels could escalate to category G2 (Moderate) or G3 (Strong) on Dec. 17th when the CME from yesterday's X2.8-class flare arrives”. (NASA)
solar flare
3/5 Another report by Space Weather Live sheds more light on the nature of the solar flare, which is being dubbed as the strongest flare of this solar cycle. It stated that the  Sunspot region 3514 “is starting to rotate away towards the west limb and flew under the radar a bit but it has rapidly developed into a complex Beta-Gamma-Delta magnetic layout which as we see right now harbors energy for spectacular X-class solar flares”. (NASA SDO)
solar flare
4/5 In the worst-case scenario, the solar storm can reach the intensity of G3. A G3-class storm is strong enough to cause drag in the upper atmosphere and push smaller satellites around, causing both disruption of signals as well as damage to sensitive instruments. They can also disrupt shortwave radio communications such as GPS, and affect mariners, drone pilots, amateur radio operators, and emergency responders. Further, in some cases, it may also affect mobile networks too. (Pixabay)
solar flare
5/5 Even as this solar storm passes by, 8 other sunspots on the Earth-facing side of the Sun have concerned the researchers. With the Sun getting increasingly unstable as it nears the peak of its solar cycle, it is expected that solar activity will also ramp up in the days to come. (Pixabay)
solar flare
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NASA SDO captured the X-class solar flare with its suite of advanced instruments. (NASA)

On December 31, the Sun generated the strongest solar flare in 7 years and it was captured by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It originated from the same sunspot that hurled out another X2.8 solar flare on December 14. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this X-class solar flare also sparked radio blackouts. Now, it has been revealed that Earth is still reeling from the efforts of the solar storm thereby generated, and radio blackouts are still being observed. The regions specifically hit are in the Polar regions. The solar storm also generated some beautiful auroras in this region. Know all about it.

X-class solar flare sparks radio blackouts

The solar flare hurled out by the Sun was of X5.0 intensity. The NOAA report states, “An X2.8 flare (R3) occurred from Region 3514; located over the far NW area of the Sun. This is likely one of the largest solar radio events ever recorded. Radio communication interference with aircraft were reported by multiple NWS Center Weather Service Units (CWSU) co-located at FAA facilities. These impacts were felt from one end of the Nation to the other. Additionally, SWPC is analyzing a possible Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) associated with this flare.”

For the unaware, X-class solar flares are the strongest in intensity and can create radiation storms that have the potential to harm the satellites. Moreover, these devastating flares can disrupt global communications and bring down the power grids to create blackouts.

A similar occurrence happened in the Polar regions, as the polar absorption event sparked by the X-class solar flare is still underway. According to a report by SpaceWeather, it has created a shortwave radio blackout in some areas. Frequencies below 35 MHz are being attenuated, while anything below 10 MHz is being completely blacked out. It has also been deemed one of the largest solar radio events ever recorded.

The reason behind radio blackouts

As per the report, the Protons hurled out towards Earth as a result of the solar flare eruption hitting Earth. While the planet's magnetic field protects it from most particles, they are funneled towards the poles, where they cause an ionizing effect, effectively absorbing shortwave radio waves.

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First Published Date: 04 Jan, 10:55 IST
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