The Strongest Solar Flare in Over 10 Years Has Been Unleashed

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 - 12:22PM
Space
Solar System
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Wednesday, 13 September 2017 - 12:22PM
The Strongest Solar Flare in Over 10 Years Has Been Unleashed
Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Center

On the morning of September 6th, the Sun unleashed two brief eruptions of radiation. The first burst was classified as an X-class solar flare, which is the most formidable class of solar storms. But despite the intensity, the second was categorized as an X9.3 flare, making it the most powerful in over a decade.

A flare of such massive proportions doesn't exist without repercussions for us puny humans here on Earth. Solar flares are known to interfere with Earth's electromagnetic field, radio communication, and power lines. The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) reported that, for high-frequency radio, there was a "wide area of blackouts, loss of contact for up to an hour over [the] sunlit side of Earth," and a diminished capacity for low-frequency communication.



Nicolas Cage's Knowing concludes with the help of massive and magical solar flares, but these magic mega-flares only exist in the movie. Still, large solar flares can interfere with life on Earth. One mega-flare was observed in 1859, dubbed the "Carrington Flare," and lit up Earth's sky with colorful auras (caused by the release of plasma) for two full days. This event was considered the most powerful solar flare ever recorded, and, if it occurred today, would be absolutely devastating.

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