‘Mass Ejection’ From ‘Significant Solar Flare’ Could Strike Earth Soon, NASA Warns
A coronal mass ejection (CME) could hit Earth this weekend after NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spotted a solar flare erupting from the sun.
The X1-class solar flare, the most powerful of its kind, burst out of a sunspot on Thursday, October 28, in the strongest storm seen in the current weather cycle.
NASA described the event as a ‘significant solar flare’, explaining it was captured in real-time video recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The UK Met Office space division called the flare ‘impressive’.
Spaceweather.com wrote: ‘Earth orbiting satellites have just detected an X1-class solar flare from Earth-facing sunspot AR2887. The blast at 1535 UT on Oct. 28th created a massive tsunami of plasma in the sun’s atmosphere.’
Images of the flare later confirmed the eruption was accompanied by the CME, which has the potential to collide with Earth’s magnetic field. Stemming from the flare, a CME is a large eruption of charged particles that can cause major geomagnetic storms and disrupt satellites, power and communications when it enters the atmosphere.
CMEs can also cause spectacular aurora borealis and aurora australis light shows, Forbes reports.
Forecasters at Spaceweather.com said the CME is travelling towards Earth at at 1260 km/s (2.8 million mph), and that it may strike the Earth on Saturday or Sunday.
Space weather physicist Dr Tamitha Skov discussed the event on Twitter, writing:
A direct hit for Halloween! The solar storm launched during the X-flare today is indeed Earth-directed! NASA predictions confirm impact by early October 31.
Expect aurora to mid-latitudes, as well as GPS reception issues and amateur radio disruptions on Earth’s nightside!
Astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips has suggest the sunspot from which the flare originated ‘may not be finished yet’, writing yesterday that it has ‘already produced two M-class flares and an X-flare today’.
Phillips continued: ‘The active region is directly facing Earth, so any additional eruptions should be geoeffective.’
The flare is already said to have caused some disruption over much of the western hemisphere for a period on Thursday, with data from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center saying South America was at the centre of the impact which resulted in amateur radio outages and GPS malfunctions.
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