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Biggest Solar Flare For Years Just Came Out Of The Sun And NASA Thinks It Could Be Waking Up

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 01 Jun 2020 13:27
Biggest Solar Flare For Years Just Came Out Of The Sun And NASA Thinks It Could Be Waking UpBiggest Solar Flare For Years Just Came Out Of The Sun And NASA Thinks It Could Be Waking UpNASA

NASA has revealed that the sun could be ‘waking up’ after producing its largest solar flare since October 2017.

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These increased levels of activity in the sun’s solar cycle won’t go unnoticed, as it can interfere with radio equipment or satellites in space.

After 100 days of no sunspots in 2020, a NASA spacecraft spotted a new collection of sunspots on May 29.

Check out NASA’s guide to solar flares here:

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A sunspot is an area of magnetic activity on the surface of the sun – also known as storms – and appear in areas of darkness. They play a huge part in the sun’s activity, including birthing solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

According to NASA, a small solar flare emerged from the sunspots seen over the weekend, resulting in harmful radiation being sent out to the atmosphere.

Although relatively small, the flare has been classified as M-class, which is essentially the middle class strength of solar flare. It is regarded as more powerful than a C-class flare, but not as powerful as an X-class flare, which is so strong it can prompt radio blackouts.

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This particular flare did cause a small radio blackout, and was shortly followed up by a C-class flare around three hours later. Since then, a number of B-class solar flares are also reported to have been sent out by the sun.

The B-class flare was too small for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to issue a warning for space forecasts, however as the sun has been in a ‘solar minimum’ in recent months, this recent activity would suggest that it is becoming more active.

It’s perfectly natural for the sun to come in and out of solar minimums, as they’re all part of its cycle and occur every 11 years or so.

It was summer 2019 when NASA first noted no activity on the sun, and this is believed to have continued ever since. How active or ‘calm’ the solar flares are does not affect the sun’s brightness.

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Scientists are still looking into the ways in which the flares affect life on Earth, while a research paper produced by M. Tavares in 2011 linked the solar cycle to earthquakes, citing that there are fewer of them during times of solar minimum.

The paper, titled Influence of Solar Cycles, read:

The earthquakes analysed during two grand solar minima, the Maunder (1645-1720) and the Dalton (1790-1820) showed a decrease in the number of earthquakes and the solar activity. After the last [grand] minima (Dalton) the earthquakes pattern increased with solar maxima.

The research process is lengthy, and it could take six months or even a year for scientists to know when a solar minimum has officially passed.

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Science, Now, Solar Flares, Sunspots, The Solar Cycle, The Sun

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The Independent and 1 other
  1. The Independent

    THE BIGGEST SOLAR FLARE IN YEARS JUST CAME OUT OF THE SUN AND IT COULD BE WAKING UP, NASA SAYS

  2. Harvard

    The Influence of Solar Cycles