The beginning of the disaster. A huge stream of plasma flies to the Earth from the most powerful flare on the Sun
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Over the past 5 months, there have been no such strong eruptions on our star.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft recorded the most powerful possible flare on the Sun and it belongs to class X. The eruption occurred late on Sunday, October 2, and already on Wednesday, October 5, a huge plasma stream will reach the Earth. As a result, a strong geomagnetic storm is expected to appear and this may adversely affect the operation of satellites in orbit and disrupt communications on Earth, writes Forbes.
Such a powerful burst of energy on the Sun and the ejection of solar particles, which is known as a coronal mass ejection, has not been observed by scientists since the beginning of May this year.
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According to scientists, an X1 class flare occurred on the Sun. This type of flare is the most powerful one possible on our star. In general, astronomers distinguish 5 types of such eruptions, which are indicated in Latin letters – A, B, C, M and X. Each eruption is exactly 10 times stronger in power than the previous ones. But, if classes A, B, C, M can have digital values u200bu200bdepending on the flash power level, which are limited to numbers from 1 to 9, then class X flashes do not have such restrictions. For example, in 2003, scientists recorded an X28-class flare and this caused a significant disruption in communications and power systems on Earth.
Considered the ninth most powerful solar flare since May 10, 2022, this flare originated in a sunspot named AR3110.
Solar flares are called eruptions on the Sun, during which plasma is ejected into space. Such eruptions occur in special regions on our star called sunspots. These areas of high solar activity can sometimes exceed the size of our planet.
When an eruption occurs, a stream of charged particles flies into space at great speed, which reach the Earth within 24-48 hours. This happens if the sunspot was directed towards our planet. But our magnetic field protects the Earth from harmful radiation, and therefore most of these particles do not cause any harm.
Nevertheless, the collision of plasma streams with the Earth causes the appearance of geomagnetic storms, which, like flares, have 5 types depending on the power level – from G1 class storms to G5 class storms. Class X flares are capable of causing the most severe geomagnetic storms with significant negative consequences for both technology and weather-dependent people.
Among the damage that geomagnetic storms can cause, scientists often point out disruptions in the operation of satellites, as a result of which communication is disrupted, as well as in the operation of GPS systems. Sometimes, during the strongest geomagnetic storms, entire power systems and electronics can fail.
But an X-class flare wasn't the only eruption that hit the Sun on October 2nd. NASA devices also recorded the appearance of two class M flares, which also provoked the release of plasma towards the Earth. Therefore, scientists believe that the streams of solar particles, which were formed as a result of eruptions of different power, can unite, as has happened more than once.
Scientists say we are entering a period that space weather observers have warned about before. Increasingly strong flares mean that the Sun is already entering its most active stage during its 11-year cycle. This means that now we should expect the appearance of an increasing number of regions on the Sun with high activity, and, accordingly, an increasing number, including class X flares.
This period will last for the next 2 years, after which the Sun can be said to calm down for a few years, and then everything will repeat itself again. Scientists believe that this phase of solar activity may be the strongest in the history of observations, and perhaps we should expect eruptions of record power.
This is very bad news for humanity, since our civilization is very dependent on modern technologies that can fail at the most inopportune moment.
Scientists believe that this year solar activity had almost record levels and this is evidenced by a large number of M-class flares. Focus has already written about that such powerful outbreaks were observed a month ago.