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NASA's Sun Watching Observatory Sees Two Powerful Solar Flares

08 September 2017, 12:44 | Virginia Benson

A strong solar storm may bring auroras to your backyard Wednesday

Two Powerful Solar Flares Set To Hit Earth Tonight, May Damage Satellites And Power Grid

It was believed to be the largest solar flare in the current solar cycle - or the past 11 years. It's hard to understand how much larger the sun is than the Earth.

These jets of radiation, which can disrupt the operation of communication satellites and the Global Positioning System as well as the electricity distribution networks reaching earth's upper atmosphere, were detected and recorded by the satellite "Solar Dynamics Observatory" of the u.s. space Agency to 3: 10 and 6: 02 p.m. They were spotted by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is tasked with continuously monitoring our star to help scientists better understand its variability and the impact of solar activity on Earth and the space around our planet.

The Solar storm could damage the radio communications and plane flights according to Tamitha Skov, who supervises space weather. Physicists believe the magnetic field can become twisted and looped as the Sun rotates, until finally these lines "snap". If they get too entangled then the stored energy gets released in the form of sudden solar flares.

The second flare was massive. The X9.3 flare was the strongest observed since an X9.0 in December 2006 and the eighth most powerful since at least June 1996, according to Smithsonian.com and SpaceWeatherLive.com. There are three categories: C, M, and X.

The flares that occurred September 6 were responsible for high-frequency radio blackouts on the dayside of the planet lasting an hour.

The most powerful event to effect Earth on record is the Carrington Event, named after Richard Carrington, an amateur astronomer who witnessed a solar flare (estimated to be an X10) while sketching sunspots in England in 1859.

This morning (Sept. 7), the SWPC issued a new G3 (strong) geomagnetic storm watch "in anticipation of the arrival of another CME associated with the X9.3 flare" seen on Wednesday. It is not yet clear if that CME will hit Earth directly.

Solar flares occur in sun spots, the cooler regions of the sun.

Huge solar flare recorded by NASA on September 6.

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