A powerful solar flare that erupted on the Sun on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, and reached us here on Friday was large enough to effect radio signals all over the western hemisphere. The X-class solar flare was also captured on video by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
On the video, this flare is seen as a bright flash of light close to the center of the solar disk, as it peaked to an X2 level on the scale of solar eruptions shortly after noon Eastern time.
The flare was so large that it knocked out radio signals across a large part of the Western Hemisphere. Thomas Ashcraft, a novice radio astronomer, says the flare was so strong that it “clambered” the Ionosphere, making it difficult for just about any decametric radio signal across the world to permeate the disturbance. The flare originated from a sunspot called Active Region 12297 and has sent forth several medium-size flares over the course of a few days.
A study of the United States Colorado Weather Prediction Center specifies the flare was accountable for triggering an area-wide blackout that lasted an hour in certain areas, resulting in the breakdown of high-frequency radio signals.
Solar flares are essentially eruptions of radiation from the Sun. The radiation from solar flares reaches Earth in a matter of minutes, but the coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – superheated plasma clouds – take a few days to travel as far. CMEs from powerful bursts such as this recent eruption can cause geomagnetic storms around Earth, which can disrupt power grids and global positioning satellites.
NASA is already running a new space program called Magnetospheric Multiscale, and it will study how the magnetic field of the Earth works, specifically the “microphysics of magnetic reconnection.”
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