On Monday (January 9) a massive explosion on the Sun triggered a powerful solar flare from a new sunspot that is slowly turning to face Earth.
The solar flare broke out at 1350 EST (1850 GMT) as an X1.9 class solar storm that caused a temporary but severe radio outage in parts of South America, Central America and the Pacific Ocean, according to the statement. (will open in a new tab) from the US Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. X-class flares are the strongest solar storms. Monday’s flare came from the same sunspot that caused the X1.2 class solar flare in January. 5, according to NOAA.
“The source is the hyperactive sunspot AR3184,” astronomer Tony Phillips of space weather website SpaceWeather.com wrote in an update. (will open in a new tab). “None of the debris plumes will hit the Earth, the sunspot is not facing our planet. Later this week it will turn in our direction.”
On the subject: Wrath of the sun: here are the worst solar storms in history
(Image credit: NASA/SDO)
NASA captures stunning images and video of solar flare (will open in a new tab) with its Solar Dynamics Observatory, a space telescope that continuously monitors the Sun at various wavelengths.
Solar flares are intense eruptions from the surface of the Sun that explode at various power levels. The weakest flares, classified as Types A, B, or C, are usually minor. Stronger M-class flares can blast charged particles onto Earth that overload our planet’s auroras, enhancing the manifestations of the northern and southern lights.
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(Image credit: NOAA/SWPC)
X-class solar flares aimed directly at Earth “could affect radio communications, power grids, navigation signals, and pose a danger to spacecraft and astronauts,” NASA said in a statement. (will open in a new tab).
The Sun is currently in the active phase of its 11-year weather-solar cycle. The current phase is known as solar cycle 25, which is expected to peak in 2025.
NASA monitors solar flares and other space weather events by observing the sun with various spacecraft. In addition to the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory or SOHO (a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency) also monitors space weather on a regular basis.
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