The new Solar Cycle 25 has been punching way above its weight since NASA officially launched its beginning last summer. Since last month a very active sun has blasted numerous M-class flares some in our direction, however, just a couple of hours ago, sunspot AR2887 blasted a powerful X-class flare directly toward Earth!
The X-class flare credit Goes.
Today's powerful X-class flare is the first since September the 6th 2017 when tiny sunspot AR2673 expanded more than 10-fold in a single day and suddenly became one of the largest sunspots of the year and blasted an X9.3-class solar flare-the, strongest solar flare in more than a decade, the flare was the equal 14th biggest ever recorded.
Today's X1-class solar flare from Earth-facing sunspot AR2887 is nowhere as powerful as the one in 2017, however, it is still mighty powerful.
According to Spaceweather.com, the blast at 1535 UT on Oct. 28th created a massive tsunami of plasma in the sun's atmosphere:
The blast also hurled a CME into space. Coronagraph images are not yet available, but evidence for a CME is already persuasive. The USAF reports strong Type II and Type IV radio emissions generated by a CME plowing through the sun's atmosphere. In addition, energetic particles accelerated at the leading edge of a CME have already reached Earth.
When will the CME itself arrive? Assuming that it is Earth-directed, probably on Oct. 30th or 31st. Fresh data from SOHO coronagraphs will allow a more precise forecast, so stay tuned.
During the flare, a pulse of X-rays and extreme UV radiation ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a strong shortwave radio blackout centered on South America.
A coronal mass ejection (CME) launched into space on Oct. 28th by exploding sunspot AR2887 is heading almost directly for Earth. SOHO coronagraphs recorded the CME racing away from the sun faster than 1260 km/s (2.8 million mph):
The movie is full of "snow"--speckles caused by solar protons striking the coronagraph's CCD camera. These particles were accelerated toward the spacecraft (and toward Earth) by shock waves on the leading edge of the CME. Traveling at relativistic speeds, the protons reached us in less than an hour. The CME itself will take more than two days to cross the sun-Earth divide. ETA: Oct. 30th.
Sunspot AR2887 may not be finished yet. It has already produced two M-class flares and an X-flare today. The active region is directly facing Earth, so any additional eruptions should be geoeffective.
A Solar Killshot!
A Near Miss: A sign from Heaven... 2012 the year the world was supposed to end almost did!
If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the MIDDLE AGES appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news. Eight years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers and the tv media didn't mention it. The "impactor" was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years. "If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.
The powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth's orbit on July 23, 2012. Fortunately, Earth wasn't there. Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft. "I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did," says Baker. "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire and would have suffered "insurmountable damage to its electronic infrastructure."
Extreme solar storms pose a threat to all forms of high technology. They begin with an explosion--a "solar flare"—in the magnetic canopy of a sunspot. X-rays and extreme UV radiation reach Earth at light speed, ionizing the upper layers of our atmosphere; side-effects of this "solar EMP" include radio blackouts and GPS navigation errors. Minutes to hours later, the energetic particles arrive. Moving only slightly slower than light itself, electrons and protons accelerated by the blast can electrify satellites and damage their electronics. Then come the CMEs, billion-ton clouds of magnetized plasma that take a day or more to cross the Sun-Earth divide. Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilets because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. Full story
To make matters worse, geologists have been expressing concerns about the magnetic field that shields Earth from deadly solar radiation. In 2019, when the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was forced to update its World Magnetic Model a year early after finding that the magnetic north pole was rapidly moving out of the Canadian Arctic and toward Siberia.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration is tracking an immense, growing, and slowly splitting "dent" in the Earth's Magnetic field. The area, known as the South Atlantic Anomaly, is situated in the southern hemisphere between South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of southwestern Africa. According to recent NASA monitoring and modeling, the area is expanding westward and becoming weaker and expected to completely split into two separate cells, each spanning thousands of kilometers across, very soon. Full story