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NASA reports strongest solar flare in 4 years hits Earth and disrupts tech

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

A FLUX of radiation from the largest solar flare observed in years has caused a technological black-out this weekend, astronomers said.

The “large” solar flare burst on July 3 and was the first Class X event recorded since September 2017. As the powerful burst of energy flowed out of the Sun, part of the radiation struck the planet and caused a temporary power outage over the Atlantic Ocean.

Although it does not affect life, the X-ray pulse interacted with the planet’s magnetic field and altered some electronic instruments and radio frequencies.

A Norwegian astronomer who runs a space weather observatory reported that all his instruments went out of whack briefly.

Rob Stammes was cited by the astronomy website Space Weather, stating:

This is the first in many years. The magnetic disturbance is especially rare.

The X-ray eruption probably caused a radio explosion and overvoltage of the electric currents in the ground which affected the astronomer’s instruments.

According to NASA, the solar flare broke out on Saturday night, July 3.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which tracks the Sun 24/7, captured the intense flash at 3.29pm BST (10.29am EDT).

The occurrence was classified as an X1.5 class flare, with “X” designating the most powerful class of flares.

The following number indicates the power of the eruption, so a Class X3 rocket would be twice as intense as yesterday’s event.

NASA said:

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation.

Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically after humans on the ground, however – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

Solar flares and storms can cause technological power outages, disrupt satellite operations and even – in more serious cases – cause power surges.

According to Space Weather, the flare erupted from the new sunspot AR2838.

Sunspots are temporary spots on the Sun’s photosphere that are colder than other portions of the Sun.

They appear like black spots and are caused by magnetic lines that become entangled.

Space Weather said:

X-flares are the strongest kind of solar flare.

They are typically responsible for the deepest radio blackouts and the most intense geomagnetic storms.

This is the first X-flare of young Solar Cycle 25. More are in the offing.

During the most recent solar cycle, Cycle 24, 49 solar flares erupted.

Astronomers expect this cycle to be at least just as active.

The solar cycles indicated a period of solar magnetic activity that the Sun crosses every 11 years when its magnetic field changes.

In other words, every 11 years, the Sun’s poles swap places.

Each cycle begins with what is known as the solar maximum when the Sun has the fewest sunspots.

As activity advances, the cycle reaches its solar maximum when the Sun has the most sunspots.

Space Weather added:

We can therefore expect dozens more X-flares as the Sun approaches Solar Maximum in the year ~2025.

Image Credit: NASA

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