While the danger posed by major solar storms to our civilization’s power grids is well documented (such as Whitley’s must-read 2012 ebook on the subject, Solar Flares), the potential effects of such storms on another network vital to the functioning of our society—the internet—is not as well understood. A new study
An X-9.3 solar flare exploded from sunspot AR 2673 at 1202 UT today, blacking out shortwave over Europe, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean as X-rays and UV radiation ionized Earth’s upper atmosphere. The explosion also generated a coronal mass ejection. It is still being modeled by NOAA to determine whether or not it is Earth-directed. According to SpaceWeather.com, this flare ranks as the #14th strongest since 1976.
Released in 2012, Whitley Strieber’s ‘Solar Flares: What You Need to Know‘ put forward the urgent warning that if a coronal mass ejection of sufficient magnitude were to strike the Earth, as has happened in the past, it could destroy our electrical grid; a dangerous, and potentially civilization-ending scenario. Now, the United States government is heeding such warnings, having announced new plans to address such a threat.
The sun’s solar flare activity appears to be hotting up: a massive X-Class solar flare erupted early on Sunday (Oct. 19) from a huge sunspot, and astronomers fear that this could just be the beginning of a spate of sizeable flares.
Solar flares are explosions of energetic radiation that can have potentially devastating effects on our communication systems, causing radio blackouts and affecting satellite measurements. Flares are categorised into three types, with grade C being the least powerful, grade M a medium-level flare, and grade X being the most powerful of all. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft captured images of the latest huge flare which was classified as a formidable X1.1.