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NASA probe detects the strongest solar flare since 2017

NASA probe detects the strongest solar flare since 2017

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The sun will bid farewell in 2023 with the most violent eruption since 2017. The effects could be felt on Earth.

FRANKFURT – The Sun is becoming more active and is expected to reach maximum activity in 2024. And it is behaving accordingly – in the last few weeks and months there have been frequent violent eruptions that have caused the northern lights to appear on Earth. On 31 December 2023 at 8:55 pm (CET), a particularly violent solar flare was observed, which was classified as a class X5.0 eruption. The eruption came from region 3536 on the Sun, which had already produced a flare of magnitude X2.8 on December 14.

Solar flares are classified according to their strength, with the weakest flares belonging to category B, followed by categories C and M. The most violent solar flares are classified as class X. Within each class there are values ​​from 1 to 9 – only class X has no upper limit. The most powerful solar flare ever recorded was in 2003. Sensors failed on X17, subsequent eruption According to NASA information Estimated at about x45.

The Sun, as observed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. The bright spot on the left is the X5.0 solar flare that occurred on December 31, 2023, the most powerful solar eruption since 2017. © NASA/SDO

The most powerful solar flare recorded since 2017

According to NASA, powerful X-class explosions can produce “long-lasting radiation storms that can damage satellites.” These explosions could also “cause global transmission problems and power outages around the world,” according to the US space agency. Another result of a solar storm hitting Earth could be the aurora borealis.

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This could also happen if the solar storm caused by the December 31 eruption hits Earth. He added: “The storm was expected to hit the ground hard, but it will last for less than one day.” Space weather physicist Tamitha Skov explains X (formerly Twitter). “Expect bright but short-lived aurora as well as interference of radio signals on the dark side of the Earth.”

Space Weather Forecast: A G1 geomagnetic storm is expected

However, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) predicts a G1 (small) geomagnetic storm only on January 2, the day the solar storm is expected to hit Earth. in Description of SWPC “The aurora borealis are usually visible at high latitudes,” she says.

So you shouldn't expect much from the strongest solar flare of the current solar cycle on Earth. This may be disappointing to some, but in 2024 there will still be plenty of opportunities for the northern lights, even in mid-latitudes. However, the solar maximum has only just begun. One researcher assumes that the solar maximum typically lasts about three years. In general, more northern lights are observed in the sky in early spring than at other times. (unpaid bill)