August 14, 2022

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Another solar flare has been detected.  Is the Earth safe?

Another solar flare has been detected. Is the Earth safe?

A strong solar flare can disrupt radio and GPS transmissions around the world. This is a result of the increased activity of our star in recent months.

The Sun is currently in the active phase of its 11-year cycle, so it is not unusual for these events to occur. Earlier this week, astrophysicists observed increased activity of AR3038’s sunspot. But the most problematic is the AR3058 area, which has an X-class glow hazard.

What are solar flares?

Solar flares are electromagnetic explosions on the surface of the Sun. The classification of solar flares is mainly based on the maximum brightness in the X-ray range. The gold standard is the so-called GOES rating, which was created on the basis of measurements from a satellite of that name. Depending on their power, we can distinguish class A, B, C, M and X flashlights.

The basis of the GOES classification is the measurement of the X-ray emission flux in the wavelength range of 0.1-0.8 nanometers at the distance of the Earth and the Sun. The weakest phenomena (sign A) give the maximum flux at the level of 10-8 W / m2B 10 times more powerful, C another 10 times stronger, M the next 10 times stronger, and the most active are Class X torches (corresponding to a flow level of 10-4 W / m2).

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The most recent solar flare captured has a 10% chance of being a Class X solar flare. Astronomers have not yet determined whether the event, accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) could cause a geomagnetic storm within a few days.

It is worth noting that the last solar flare brings back memories of the so-called events of Bastille Day on July 14, 2000, which falls on France’s national holiday. The CME who accompanied him reached Earth a day later and made the aurora borealis visible in the sky across the United States. Astronomers estimated that the Bastille Day events carried with them 1,033 ergs of magnetic energy, the equivalent of a thousand billion atomic bombs used during World War II.

Monitoring space weather is especially important – NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operate the Space Weather Prediction Center. The current cycle is the 25th solar cycle and began in 2019.