A gigantic sunspot, first noted by astronomers several days ago, has unleashed another X-Class flare this morning. This one, classified at X1.6, has a much greater breadth than its predecessor. The flare may be Earth-directed, but we are still awaiting more information as it becomes available this afternoon. Luckily for us, space weather data allows us to pick up on this information rather quickly. Radio blackout information was detected within minutes of the flare. And sensors picked up on the X Class flare and its strength almost instantly.
Whether or not the X-Class flare is Earth-Directed, and whether it not it featured a CME (or Coronal Mass Ejections) will obviously have impacts on what we experience here. Luckily, our atmosphere protects us from most of the potentially harmful impacts of an Earth-directed major solar flare. But the magnetic field can still produce widespread aurora, radio and GPS blackouts and effects, and satellite interruptions. If the flare is not Earth-directed and/or doesn’t feature a CME, we will either experience fringe effects (nothing notable) or nothing at all
The sunspot, as mentioned above, was first picked up several days ago. But it’s turning it’s wonderfully large self to face Earth, and astronomers are wondering if major flares from the sunspot will feature CME’s in the coming days that may impact our planet. The sunspot is estimated to be about 78,000 miles wide. So, while today’s solar flare was big in its own right, it may be the first of many.
NASA imagery captured todays solar flare earlier this morning with its view of the sun. The flare is large and impossible to miss. And no, the image at the top of the post isn’t fake — it’s actual imagery from NASA showing the solar flare, and the Earth to-size. The breadth of the event is quite remarkable. As we mentioned, though, the details of the flare…including where exactly it originated from and whether or not it will bring effects to Earth…are still being researched.
We will be updating this article throughout the day with new information regarding this solar flare and potential impacts as we get it. For now, we have a rainy and windy Wednesday to get through.