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NASA was surprised by a solar flare 100 times more powerful than expected


The scientists took a long time to recognize their error, as the data collected in the field had nothing to do with their predictions. While the Sun is in the middle of its “cycle 25” and as it slowly approaches its maximum power, astronomers from NASA and NOAA, the equivalent of Météo-France in the United States, have published several recommendations in beginning of the year concerning possible “solar flares”.

These are part of the normal process of development of the Sun and although their power can be 100 times stronger than normal radiation, solar flares generally have no negative impact on life on Earth.

Solar flares, creating the northern lights

The only trace that these immense eruptions leave in the sky takes on captivating colors and shapes, it is the Northern Lights. Passing around the edges of our planet, in the Arctic and Antarctic Circle, solar winds heat particles in the atmosphere. By ionizing, these particles emit light, which gives rise to the northern lights.

It is therefore possible to predict the arrival of an aurora borealis based on the activity of the Sun. This is why, among other things, NASA and NOAA scientists have their eyes glued to the Sun, to anticipate the arrival of an eruption.

During their daily observation, they noticed one eruption more powerful than the others. It was category X, the highest level of the NASA scale for solar flares. Such a phenomenon, in addition to producing northern lights much further south, generally causes problems in radio links between different points on the Earth.

These high-power flares can also have a considerable impact on satellites in orbit. Regarding this phenomenon, observed during the day on Saturday by NASA astronomers, it is visible in this image below.

No damage yet

If the eruption has already passed the Earth for several days, it does not seem to have major damage on Earth or in orbit. A real opportunity for satellites present outside the atmosphere which benefits from almost no protection against solar radiation.

On the side of NASA, the American space agency says it is in “constant surveillance” of the Sun and in particular its “spots”. These black spots on the surface could be warning signs of a very intense eruption.

If the link can be formally made between the eruptions solar and spots, NASA could take measurements days in advance of an eruption. This would be very useful, especially for the astronauts present on the ISS who are the people most directly affected by this radiation.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116