The Sun is awakening from its long slumber, and has released an X-class solar flare that resulted in a coronal mass ejection (CME) being cast in the direction of Planet Earth. Although the flare itself was a relatively strong one, the geomagnetic effects from the charged particles are expected to be moderate, when the CME reaches Earth on October 30.
A series of events on the Sun’s surface that occurred between October 25 and 28 culminated in an X1-class flare that launched a stream of particles in our direction. Although X-class flares are considered the most intense, October 28th’s event was only an X1, the weakest of the X-classes. For comparison, the solar flare that resulted in the 1859 Carrington Event—a geomagnetic storm that would be considered a game-ender for our modern electrical grid—was about forty times more powerful.
Although this is the second X-class flare of Solar Cycle 25 (another X-class occurred on July 3 of this year), it’s the first of its type to send a coronal mass ejection (CME) our way. NOAA is predicting that when the particles reach Earth it will result in a G3 geomagnetic storm, considered to be a mid-range “strong” storm.
According to NOAA’s website, a G3 can be expected to produce minor issues in power grids, possible increased drag on low-Earth-orbit satellites and surface charging on their components, and possible interference with satellite and low-frequency radio navigation systems. Aurorae might be seen as far south as Illinois and Oregon (a potential Halloween treat!)
While this eruption wasn’t so bad, the Sun has produced much more powerful solar squalls in the past, and will do so again one day. Whitley outlines the danger presented by these solar storms—and what needs to be done to weather them—in his 2012 ebook Solar Flares: What You Need to Know.
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