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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Solar flare erupts yesterday… solar flare solar flare

Good morning, Netizens...

Our sun is getting more and more active when it comes to sunspots recently according to scientists who study our star's activities. This activity naturally waxes and wanes on an 11-year weather pattern. The sun's current cycle is called Solar Cycle 24 and is expected to last through 2013.

The sun unleased a powerful solar flare late Monday (Oct. 22), releasing waves of radiation into space that have already caused a short radio blackout on Earth, although few people in the news media made mention of radio outages or other sidereal anomalies.

The flare erupted from the sunspot AR 11598 (short for Active Region 11598), and reached peak brightness at 11:22 p.m. EDT (0322 GMT this morning, Oct. 23), according to scientists working on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a space telescope that constantly monitors the sun with high-definition cameras. It ranked as an X1.8 solar flare, one of the strongest types of solar flares, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) run by NOAA and the National Weather Service.

 Solar flares often release bubbles of charged plasma (called coronal mass ejections) into space that, when they impact Earth, can cause geomagnetic storms that disrupt radio communications, the Internet and power grids and create especially beautiful displays of the northern and southern lights (auroras). This flare, however, did not unleash a coronal mass ejection, so it was not predicted to cause disruption on Earth and no special auroras. Its powerful radiation was enough, though, to briefly disrupt radios here last night.

Various theoreticians, however, often speak of potential giant sunspots in the future that might cause all kinds of problems; even serious scientists say such super solar flares could occur. However, scientists have not been able to predict earthquakes yet, much less when the next solar flare of gigantic proportions will take place. So all we can really do is wait on Mother Nature and perhaps keep our Tin Hats handy.



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.