Yesterday, the US space agency spotted the Sun within the means of emitting a robust flare from an energetic sunspot. NASA’s SDO has been observing the Sun for over a decade and appears at how solar activity is created and the way space weather comes from that activity. The observatory recorded an extreme ultraviolet flash from an energetic sunspot which was emerging over the Sun’s southeastern limb.
The NASA statement said: “Solar flares are powerful bursts of energy. Flares and solar eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, and navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.
“This flare is assessed as an X-class flare.
“X-class denotes essentially the most intense flares, while the number provides more details about its strength.”
Spaceweather.com noted that: “Radiation from the flare ionized the highest of Earth’s atmosphere, causing a robust shortwave radio blackout over the Atlantic Ocean and Europe.
“Signals below 30 MHz were attenuated for greater than an hour.”
Energy may be released from the Sun’s energetic regions in the shape of two key forms – solar flares, that are sudden flashes of radiation, and so-called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.
A CME is one of the crucial powerful types of a solar storm, and takes place when the Sun belches out a cloud of charged particles and electromagnetic fluctuations.
If sufficiently large, such storms could potentially wreak havoc on the Earth, inducing fluctuations in the facility grid, disrupting high-frequency radio signals and interfering with satellite operations in low-Earth orbit.
In September 1859, the Earth was rocked by essentially the most severe geomagnetic storm on record — the so-called “Carrington Event”, which occurred within the wake of CME.
READ MORE: Sunspots larger than the Earth appear and fire off strong flares
In keeping with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the US: “Under normal conditions, high frequency (HF) radio waves are in a position to support communication over long distances by refraction via the upper layers of the ionosphere.
“When a robust enough solar flare occurs, ionization is produced within the lower, more dense layers of the ionosphere (the D-layer), and radio waves that interact with electrons in layers lose energy because of the more frequent collisions that occur in the upper density environment of the D-layer.
“This will cause HF radio signals to turn out to be degraded or completely absorbed.”
Eventually, this ends in a radio blackout, which is the absence of high-frequency communications, primarily impacting the three to 30 MHz band.