Space weather observers report that a massive sunspot has erupted, producing a magnitude X flare. Problems with radio communications on Earth have already been reported, and a magnetic storm has yet to come.

On December 14, at 6:02 PM (5:02 PM UTC), the Sun unleashed an intense solar flare. It is assigned to Class X and Level 2.28. A similar powerful event has not yet occurred in the current solar cycle.

Class X solar flare

Solar flares are often the result of sunspot eruptions, and this time was no different. A powerful glow erupted from sunspot 2514 observed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The force of the explosion reached the ground almost immediately, causing the radio signal to disappear. Frequencies below 30 MHz were not available in the Americas for more than half an hour. But this is not the end.

The rest of the article is below the video

In solar flare classifications, it was not visible at all, but it was the strongest in the history of the twenty-fifth solar cycle. Meanwhile, our host star is just reaching maximum activity, and X-class solar flares could have serious consequences.

They are capable of damaging satellites and destroying power and communications infrastructure. It even happens that their radiation has an effect on people. It’s very rare, but it’s enough to fly to the wrong place at the wrong time. If we are in the region of one of the poles at the time of a solar flare, our body may receive an additional dose of radiation.

The flare led to a geomagnetic storm

Such powerful solar flares are usually accompanied by a CME (coronal mass ejection) phenomenon. It is a cloud of plasma that travels thousands of kilometers of space per second. If the planet Earth is in its path, a geomagnetic storm occurs.

This phenomenon usually only produces aurora borealis and temporarily disrupts radio communications in polar regions. However, in extreme cases, they are capable of destroying power grids and communications infrastructure.

But this time we are lucky. The coronal ejection moves very quickly towards Earth, but it does not point directly at it. A stream of solar plasma will collide with our planet, but it will only hit us as a bounce.

According to the latest announcements, from December 15 to 16, we may witness a weak geomagnetic storm (G1) on Earth. It will be caused by CME particles carried in the solar wind stream. However, the stronger effect will come later December 17. Then the level of the geomagnetic storm will increase significantly, but only to moderate (G2) or strong (G3).

At worst, this will be a busy time for ground control of satellite systems. Residents of Earth may face problems with navigation and radio communications, but there is also the possibility of the appearance of the aurora borealis over Europe.

Katarzyna Rutkowska, journalist at Wirtualna Polska

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