An explosion of extreme power occured on the sun at 3:10 AM Pacific Time today. This explosion is classed as an X-17 solar flare. X-1 is the least strong of the high power flares, X-9 normally the highest on the scale.
The flare sent a coronal mass ejection directly toward earth, and its effects should be felt as early as tonight. (Tuesday, October 28) Auroras should be visible as far south the Great Plains, and possibly farther south.
Whether the CME will result in disruptions to electronic devices and power transmission facilities, or have other effects is not known. However, the earth’s magnetic field has been buffeted by solar storms in recent weeks, and it is likely that various effects will be felt.
The effects of solar storms are graded from S-5 (Extreme) to S-1 (None). It is probable the tonight’s solar storm will grade from S-3 to S-5.
It is possible that satellite memory will be affected, that the astronauts on the international space station will need to take radiation precautions, that high flying aircraft will receive abnormal radiation, and that high frequency radio will be disrupted, as well as navigation equipment.
There is no evidence that radiation effects will be experienced on the earth’s surface or that the CME will have biological consequences on the ground. In rare cases, solar events are believed to have had such effects on earth.
The largest solar flare ever recorded was an X-22 event that passed earth on April 4, 2001. However, its effects were not as strong as today event is expected to be because it was not pointed directly at earth.
Because NASA’s ACE spacecraft are currently saturated by the ongoing solar storm, accurate measures of solar wind, a key component in estimating the intensity of solar storms, are at present not possible.
The sun has recently been found by scientists to be in its most active magnetic period in millenia. A study of the effects of sunspots on earth has been taken back to the year 850 AD, and has shown that solar magnetic activity over the past 60 years has been the highest in that period.
The effects of solar storms on weather is not known. Some studies suggest that sunspots cause short-term drops in earth temperature, but CMEs are thought to cause temperature increases. No unusual weather effects are expected from today’s solar storm.
To keep up with all the latest on the sun, go to Spaceweather.com. NEVER look directly at the sun. Follow safe observation practices.
Every world has to end sometime. (This book is part of our great overstock sale).
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